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There are generally two types of invitation I get to facilitate a collaboration.

The first is where a leader, group or team is aware of the need for independent facilitation to give everyone involved in a process the freedom to be fully present and open. The second relates to frustration with lack of progress or with what is perceived as the same problems with the same people. In either case, we can never underestimate the importance of ensuring that everyone is crystal clear at the start of the process about why they are together and how they are going to be together.

One framework that I have always found useful as a starting point for groups to really consider how they are going to work together is  “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word

When we consciously think about speaking with integrity, saying only what we mean, and thinking about the power of our words, we can let go of old patterns of behaviour that don’t serve us or the process. We can take responsibility for ourselves and not get caught up in blaming or complaining. We are then free to really explore what is at the root of the blame/complaint so that we can address it constructively. It also means not using our words to be critical of ourselves.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

This is really difficult! It doesn’t mean that we don’t have empathy, it does mean that we don’t waste energy defending ourselves or our point of view. It’s worth pausing to separate what someone has said from how it ‘lands’ with us. We can better establish if it has value and what that value might be. Considering the possibility offered by an opposing point of view can be hugely insightful. It doesn’t mean that you have to change your point of view to theirs or that one is right and one is wrong. Taking our ego out of the equation can go a long way to building strong relationships and making progress.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Probably the biggest barriers to good group/teamwork are the assumptions we make about why someone is saying something or what they mean by it. Often times we are projecting our own beliefs and assumptions onto the words or behaviour of others.  Equally, we can make really big assumptions that other people know what is going on in our heads/hearts. Clear communication, courageous questioning, respect and honesty with ourselves and others is an ongoing work in progress for most of us.

4. Always Do Your Best

The biggest realisation that this agreement opened up for me was that my best changes over time and in different contexts. Doing our best requires us to be consistent and to take the next step without self-judgement or self-doubt.

Taking time to attend to the why and the how of collaboration drastically improves the efficacy and sustainability of what gets done when.