Collaborating with a tentative and open mind

By Doreen Kwarimpa-Atim

I regularly facilitate an exercise called “Creative conversations”. This involves two people holding a conversation using colour and form without prior planning or verbal communication.

Individuals who go into the exercise with a fixed mind-set of a complete picture that they want to draw get very frustrated when their partners do not follow their lead. They are usually dissatisfied with the outcome. In contrast, participants who start without any pre-set idea, who are more open and tentative find it easier to collaborate together. They also tend to describe the exercise as fun and enjoyable and are more satisfied with the outcome.

I’ve learned that if we go into any collaboration with an open mind, even tentatively, this can be both more fulfilling and productive. It results in better relationships and genuinely shared ownership of outcomes.

It reminds me of two senior consultants I work with. When we are planning something together they suggest tentatively, using phrases like; “It seems…” “Perhaps we could…” Their open approach makes me feel my contributions are welcome and whatever we come up with is ‘ours’. But is also makes me wonder, how often am I stressed when working with others, simply because I am so set in the way I see things or want them to be…

This week, how can you be more open to working with what others bring on the table?
What do you need to do more of or less of to be more flexible when working with others?

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