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5 Keys for Effective (and Mindful) Collaboration

One of the key benefits of visualizing your work is that it provides you a larger perspective. As an individual, you are able to take a step back and have a clearer picture of your work. You may identify gaps or create new connections that weren’t visible when you were holding all the information in your head or in different documents. When it comes to collaboration, working visually with your team can provide even more benefits. Greater team alignment, more innovative ideas, increased ownership and buy-in for your team’s plans and strategies are just a few benefits that I’ve heard from different Mindjet customers.

Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as throwing a map up on the wall and inviting the team to the room. The office place is riddled with different agendas, egos, conflicting goals, competing team members, and more (check out our Workology series for a breakdown of different office personalities). The pitfalls are out there and it’s your job as the team facilitator to be aware of them and carefully — and artfully — navigate the team to success. In order to tackle such a task, it’s time to take a look inward and see how you’re contributing to the problem or supporting the solution!

5 Keys for Effective and Mindful Collaboration

1.       Clarify your intentions.  Are you solving a problem? Trying to build alignment? Looking for innovation? Defining your strategy? Planning your initiative? These are all great examples of when you could employ visual mapping with your team. Be clear with your intentions. What outcomes are you really seeking?  Now, make it more mindful. How will you go about setting the tone, creating a space for openness and respect? How will you foster inclusiveness and ensure each team member has had an opportunity to contribute?

Take some time to understand how you operate and discern the best approach for facilitating your team meeting.

2.       Take care of your language.  What you say will reveal your thought processes. If you think a problem is unsolvable or a waste of time, that will show itself in the meeting. Your choice of words will either encourage or halt progress. Are you cutting down ideas and conversation too soon? This will ultimately discourage participation – even if you know the ideas will not be used in the long run.

Try not to counter or argue but rather build off the momentum and encourage more ideas to flow.

3.       Observe your behavior. Your body language and behavior speaks volumes. Your behavioral patterns with others will sometimes work in your favor, producing positive results, and other times turn against you. Become a curious observer of your self. Was your last meeting postive or negative? In what ways did your behavior contribute to the outcome? Getting to know your habits, bringing them into your consciousness will ultimately create more freedom for you to choose how to behave in order to set the stage to achieve your desired results.

People will have a sense for what and how you are feeling by how you hold yourself, how you respond to questions or direct questions at others. The more you can let go of judgement and hold on to compassion, the better your tone will be. 

4.       Be caring and curious. Caring and curious, you say, why does that matter? When you approach a room with compassion, people feel that. Stress, on the other hand, tends to be counter-productive. People tend to shut down and go internal when they are stressed.

Being curious and caring will let you (and others) start to see the unique perspectives that each team member brings and you’ll start to uncover the real issues, not just the superficial ones.

5.       Express Disagreements Differently. Mindfulness doesn’t mean that you’re being a pushover. Learn to be direct and assertive, where appropriate, without resorting to attacks, sarcasm or any disrespect. When faced with someone behaving negatively, the tendency is to fall into that trap and respond with a similar tone. Be mindful of your original intentions and, while difficult, have compassion for the other party.

Most people really want to be heard and are willing to align with the team once they are heard. Be open, be curious, and be respectful.

This post was inspired by Louise Altman’s article, 11 Ways to Be More Mindful in Your Work Relationships, posted in The Intentional Workplace blog.

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