As people we are more similar than we are different—both biologically and as manifested in our daily lives. To enable the effects of collaboration, we need to ground ourselves in what it means to have compassion for different perspectives.
- You may not associate compassion with being a productive, confident, and driven team member, but you really should. And here's why: If I'm collaborating well, it means, among other things, that my team trusts me, my team buys into my ideas, and my team will perform their parts of the project. Notice that all of those collaboration requirements involve other people, people who aren't you. Remember, you can't make other people do or think anything.
They have to decide that it's in their best interest to do so. So, consider how much time you've spent thinking, if they'd just listen to me, we could get something done. Here's a reality check: All perspectives are biased, even yours. It's your perspective, it's not right, it's not wrong, it's one person's perspective. Each of our perspectives are based on a set of experiences that we have had individually. It's human nature to favor your own perspective. So, don't worry, you're in good company, we all do it.
But after we discovered that a group member doesn't share our perspective, saying your idea again or louder doesn't get you anywhere. Again, you can't make people do anything. They have to decide to do it themselves. So, we need to do something other than just purely advocating our own perspective. This is where compassion comes into play. Compassion is having a true concern for the well-being of others. It's not about being soft or a pushover, it's about going outside of yourself, feeling what they're feeling, and wanting to do something about it.
Another way to think about it: Compassion is empathy plus action. It's about recognizing that your group members are just like you, individuals with a history, with perspectives, and with good reasons for having those perspectives; and understanding that their perspectives, whether you agree with them or not, feel just as valid to them as yours do to you. The compassionate perspective elevates collaboration beyond idea comparison and polite compromise.
The compassionate perspective allows you to understand, as best as you can, how the other person came to have that idea or feeling, and why she or he is holding onto it. You might find yourself agreeing, you might not. What's important is that compassion opens our minds up to the common ground. It allows us to see that that person's perspective as the end product of a highly individual and valid journey and find a way to have respect for that journey.
Best of all, true compassion means our concern for others is authentic. There are few things more distasteful than someone pretending to have our best interests in mind. People can spot a phony a mile away. Being authentic in your compassion means you have honestly found something you can respect about the other person's perspective. No placation, no faking, it has to be real. Here's a tip for being more compassionate. Advocate for your colleague's perspective in your head or to someone else, so you can truly feel what it is to be the person you're collaborating with.
If your group currently lacks compassion, be that first person to demonstrate that concern for the well-being of others. It will draw other people to you, it will build trust, and it will ultimately make you collaboration that much more successful.
- Solving collaboration challenges
- Aligning on a collective goal
- Analyzing the current situation
- Selecting the right participants
- Establishing roles and responsibilities
- Engaging support from leaders
- Making a visual roadmap
- Facilitating effective meetings
- Evaluating results