My Collaboration-Imploding Hot Button
Jenny Ambrozek emailed me this link from Patty Anklam's blog, which led me to a guest post by Fred Mandell on Eric Mankin's blog. The were all writing about collaboration, something that is both part of my practice and takes up a lot of my thinking time.
Patty's overview does a nice summation about the qualities of collaboration, but don't miss the pictures on Fred's post. By looking at collaboration between artists, we get another view of possibilities. (Diversity!)
Making possibility visible is one of the key benefits for me in collaborating with others. This happens when we each bring our individual perspectives. Our different perspectives. But this isn't always easy.
Over the last couple of days, I've been part of a couple of blog comment "interactions." I'm not ready to call them conversations, but they are beginning to feel like it. My qualification for conversation is when there is a healthy mix of interactions, beyond personal assertions and zingers. The second link above is not (yet?) a conversation. The first one is getting there.
These interactions, like reading a variety of blogs, are openings to different points of view. In a way, it is a form of collaborative thinking. The interaction on Jenny's post, while at times heated, feels like the participants are actually reading everyone's comments. The second one, (on Chris Pirillo's blog) is still just people making their points of view visible, me included.
However, on Chris' blog I had a visceral reaction when the person who commented after me referred to women as "babes we'd like to pony up a preso?" (It is a thread about women as speakers and participants at a tech conference.) Yup, I reacted to the word "babes." My first thought was, what is the male equivalent of babes, boys? Do we line up male speakers as boys? Or is babeness contingent not just on the knowledge a woman speaker brings, but how attractive she is? Again, do we judge our male speakers that way?
You can see where my mind went. It went into assumption and attack mode. I don't know the guy who wrote the comment. I looked on his blog and there is some interesting stuff. But I sure did not cut him any slack in my first read of his comment. I know some of the people commenting on Jenny's blog and, while Dave Snowden can get me clenching up a bit, I know and respect his work, so I don't let myself get caught up (very often) in the anus-clenching, teeth-grinding mode as I read and reply.
Listening is a key part of collaboration. If a word, a phrase or a post shuts us down, we lose.
Language sure can open up or shut down a conversation for me. Or a collaboration. When a label someone else uses hits my hot button, it is harder to stay in the game. When an assertion that strikes me as over the top hits my hot button; same thing. My hot button can be the end of a collaboration, and kill many from starting.
My quick learning is I need to watch my hot button or I'll miss opportunities for collaboration. That is not to say I have to like or appreciate the language or style others are using. And if we dig deeper into collaboration together, that seems fair game for negotiation.
But as far as keeping the door open, I'm going to try and give my hot button a vacation.
Image from fish2000