Successful Collaboration and Our Brain – What Do We Need To Know? Part 2

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In Successful Collaboration and Our Brain – What Do We Need To Know? Part 1 , I talked about the importance of creating a collaborative environment, where people feel at ease and comfortable right from the start, to maximize their ability to contribute in a safe way. I gave tips for how to set up the conditions to do that. However, even when you take care to set up the conditions and environment so people can be in their "collaborative brain," things can happen and people will react.

Below are three situations that can trigger a "fight or flight" reaction, and affect someone's ability to think collaboratively, along with actions that can be taken to restore an environment of trust and safety to the group.

  1. Perceived or actual aggressive language or movements
  2. Events that remind someone of a previous stressful situation
  3. Perceived differences

1. Perceived or actual aggressive language or movements

It's very important not to proceed until the situation is acknowledged. This kind of situation rarely goes away by itself.

Things you can do:

  • Remind everyone about the behavior guidelines they agreed to earlier.
  • Help the person feeling threatened to explain what is upsetting them, and to also see the situation from the other person's perspective.
  • Give the perceived aggressor an opportunity to say more about what their concerns or ideas are.
  • If there is physical danger or someone is disrupting the event beyond what is manageable, have options for him or her to leave.

2. Events that remind someone of a previous stressful situation

Sometimes someone is triggered by an event in the past. Help individuals manage their responses.

Things you can do:

  • Acknowledge the upset.
  • Encourage people to balance their emotions; for example to take a deep breath, get up and walk around, get some water, etc.
  • Invite the person to briefly say something about what they were reminded of in the interests of putting it behind.
  • Take the person aside and talk with them individually.
  • Take a break.

3. Perceived differences

It may seem that there are many differing sides and no one is agreeing. Help identify common ground.

Things you can do:

  • Ask people to listen for what they can agree with.
  • Encourage people to listen in a way that creates a connection, for example.

Make eye contact.

Repeat what they heard and ask, "What did I miss"?

Acknowledge feelings as well as words.

  • Respect their right to have an opinion different from others and agree to disagree.
  • Clarify or comment on the similarities.
  • Have each person say what is good about the others' idea.

Keep these troubleshooting tips in mind and remember to breathe. Most collaborative meetings or conversations do not encounter situations that require more extreme measures.

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Source by Paula Vigneault