Monday, August 11, 2008

How to Collaborate Without Even trying

Luckily I work in a place that is generally friendly and collaborative.  In fact, we collaborate in our teaching, our research and our committees more than most places I've had the opportunity to observe.  That said, we don't always succeed, that is, we fail miserably.  As the new school year approaches, this post from the folks at lifehacker, might serve as a reminder that a little civility can go a long way.

Memorize the names of those with whom you work. Sounds so simple but many of us don’t even know the people in our department or division. Learning their names makes them seem somehow, more human.
Learn from those around you. No one person has the monopoly on the truth so learn from those around you. Is there an application that someone could help you use more effectively? Is there a policy or protocol that you are rusty with but the next guy is an expert?
Be likable. No surprise here- nice people get results. This is not to have you be a pushover at work but an ounce of niceness goes a long way.
Walk the hall. This is not a diversion to help you avoid your own work but an easy way to get to know people is just to pop by and ask them how they’re doing. You’ll also learn something from them by seeing how they work. You might also find that you have something in common with them simply by seeing their workspace.
Compliment with tact. A quality compliment can earn mileage long after the comment is made. During a meeting, in casual conversation or in an email, a quick one liner can build up your collaborative bank account.
The best thing about all of these suggestions is that they’re all free. Being collaborative doesn’t have to be difficult but it does take intentionality. Don’t get me wrong- I’m still competitive but now I see it as one lens of many that can be used at an appropriate time. It’s not necessarily the default for everyday life at home and at work.

Again, these are frequently employed by the good folks at Whittier, so maybe this is just a note to myself...