Effectively improving our thinking together requires developing our skills, dispositions and knowledge

   I have been thinking alot about what is takes to help adults develop the skills, dispositions and knowledge to intentionally think interdependently.  Below, you will find some of my thoughts.

Qualities of Effective Collaborators                 Actions to Positively Impact your skills
Appreciate the nature of adult learning Learn from or revisit the work of Malcolm Knowles and others 
Embrace the uniqueness of each adult  and interact in ways that sincerely appreciate and connect with the individual  Be willing to develop honest and sincere relationships with the individuals you are helping
Celebrate the fact that your work requires effectively listening to and understanding the individuals you serve so that you can help them identify and connect with their specific growth  Learn or revisit the skills of active listening and practice these skills regularly in sincere relationships and become intentional about framing your efforts in response to each individual and his or her unique needs
Respect the complexity individuals face as they explore and address their own growth related to thinking interdependently Call upon and/or increasing your ability to accept the ‘messiness’ and complexity of adult learning while learning about and appreciating the uniqueness of each adult you serve 
Accept that while individuals are learning about and becoming engaged in thinking interdependently  this might lead to a real sense of disequilibrium  Support and encourage the individual by carefully listening to and suggesting that they think about the developmental nature of this new learning
Re frame and embrace the challenges that present themselves as learning opportunities for those you serve  Develop your ability to re-frame  “problems” into a potentially favorable situation
Establish an appreciation for and understanding of the adaptive and developmental nature of becoming more comfortable and able to initiate and/or engage in interdependent thinking  Develop routines for checking in with the adults you are working with to reinforce, support and stretch their thinking and actions related to initiating and/or engaging in interdependent thinking
Acknowledge and remind adults that the transition from mostly thinking independently to often thinking interdependently will take time and will require letting go of old ways and for a time, being unsure of new ways to interact  Study the work of William Bridges, both Managing Transitions and Transitions – with the understandings you gain from Bridges – support the individual transitions adults will experience during this growth and development
Support the adult and invite him/her to revisit their motivation (both personal and for the common good) for entering into this potential major change in their approach to interacting, engaging and thinking with others  Study the work of the Patterson and others in the Influencer with a special focus on the concepts of personal motivation and ability and then use this knowledge to guide your support of the adults you serve
Maintain a core focus on the individual continuing to increasing his or her ability to listen for understanding – this is a major behavior for those engaged in improving their ability to think together Study the many sources of information and skill building regarding Active Listening and specifically the work of Covey  in relation to the basic concept of ‘seeking first to understand’ 
Articulately and with sensitivity point out your impression (if you hold the perception) that the adult(s) you are assisting seem to be engaging in polite parallel thinking as opposed to the engaging in thinking interdependently  Remind the adults you are working with of how the common good can be advanced by moving beyond polite parallel thinking
While thinking interdependently individuals must be welcoming, friendly, and sincere Block asks the question: “How are we going to be when we gather together?” This is a question you’ll want to frame and re-frame as you help adults decide ‘how they are going to be’ when they are thinking together 
Celebrate the growth of those you serve Sincere and regular positive acknowledgement of progress and growth you observe in those you work with or serve as a facilitator

References

1)            Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging. San Francisco, California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2008

 

2)            Patterson, Kerry, Grenny, Joseph, Maxfield, David, McMillan, Ron and Switzler, Al.  Influencer: The Power to Change Anything. New York, New York: McGraw Hill, 2008

 

3)            Knowles, Malcolm S., Holton III, Elwood F. and Swanson, Richard A. The Adult Learner, Sixth edition.  Burlington, Massachusetts: Elsevier Butterworth Heineman, 2005

 

4)            Bridges, William. Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change. Second edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Cap Press, 2003

 

5)         Bridges, William. Transitions: Making sense of Life’s Changes. Second edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Cap Press, 2004

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