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Empathetic Collaboration - A Series on Creating Caring Teams (Part 2)

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” - Audre Lorde

One of the key things that can get in the way of effective teamwork and collaboration is a misunderstanding of the different work styles each person has. If someone works very differently from us, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong; it’s just different! If we can understand, respect and appreciate these differences, we will create a more well-balanced and empathetic team environment. To help you understand a little more about yourself, answer the following questions to discover whether you prefer to work in a structured, planned way or more of a go with the flow style with things as they happen. For each question tick one of the 2 statements you identify most with? 1. a. I prefer to finish all my work before I relax or have fun b. I am happy to stop work for fun; I can work late if need be 2. a. I plan my work to avoid rushing just before a deadline. b. I am stimulated by an approaching deadline. 3. a. I may appear a little inflexible I like things planned and decided b. I may appear to be loose and casual. I like to keep plans to a minimum 4. a. I work consistently through the day b. I work in bursts of energy throughout the day Mostly a’s Organised – You will think sequentially, value order and organisation. Your life will be more scheduled and structured, and you probably seek closure, enjoy completing tasks and take deadlines seriously. Key characteristics: - Decisive, controlled, good at finishing, organised, structured, scheduled, responsible, likes closure, makes plans. Mostly b’s Adaptive – You will be adaptable and flexible, a random thinker who prefers to keep your options open. You will thrive on the unexpected and are open to change. You will probably be spontaneous and often juggle several projects at once. Key characteristics: - Adaptable, relaxed, less organised, care-free, spontaneous, changes tack midway, keeps options open, dislikes routine.

You will be identified with either being adaptive or organised in the short quiz. The next stage is to think about your team and how you can find ways to be more appreciative of the different types and improve your collaborations.

Ask yourself the following reflective questions: - 1. Who are you working with or have worked who works in a style that is opposite to yours? 2. What worked or is working with this/these colleagues? 3. What can you do right away or in the future to improve your collaboration with this person/people?

To help you get started:

Adapters: 1. Trust them they will deliver 2. Be open to change and listen they often have brilliant ideas 3. Appreciate them – they are great up against a deadline Organised: 1. Keep them informed on how things are going, even if there is nothing to report. 2. Use them to organise the time bound elements 3. Appreciate them – they are great at getting things finished The more a team understands and appreciates the way each other likes to work, the more in-tune and successful they will be. At your next team meeting, why not suggest that everyone take the quiz on adapting and organising or do a more in-depth Myers Briggs report to help you all understand individual working needs and how you can collaborate more effectively.

Let me know how you get on, and by the way, I’m an Adapter which is why I have to do these articles just before the deadline otherwise I can’t come up with any ideas, but hopefully you are finding them useful. Please let me know what you think, I would love to know!


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