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Ten Lessons in Collaboration

Introduction to Professional Nursing

Ann Seppelt
May 10, 2015
Ten Lessons in Collaboration
In every situation and every occupation it is much easier to accomplish a task if there is teamwork involved. Not just “teamwork”, but a good group of people to work with that each have their own attributes that can bring a plus to the group. For example, there are many people that can come up with ideas and research them, but are they organized and can they put these into a clear concise thought. This team would need a person that can organize the research and lay them out and make sure that the information can be shared fluently to others.
According to the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, collaboration is an idea repeatedly discussed in in health circles (Gardner, D. B. 2005). Attributes identified by several nurse authors include sharing of planning, making decisions, solving problems, setting goals, assuming responsibility, working together cooperatively, communicating, and coordinating openly. Related concepts, such as cooperation, joint practice, and collegiality, are often used as substitutes. They share some, but not all, of collaboration's attributes. However, the question remains: How can we collaborate more effectively? Based on experience and current literature, ten key lessons provide some direction for putting collaboration into practice.
Lesson #1: Know Thyself Shared values and goals are a foundational part of the overarching mental structure that drives collaborative efforts. Therefore, it is important to evaluate personal goals and values, and to make them explicitly conscious. This requires the dualistic pursuit of self-knowledge and knowledge of others' mental models. To make a good team, a person must know what they are good at so they know what they can do to bring to the table (Gardner, D. B. 2005).

Lesson #2: Learn to Value and Manage Diversity
While it is dangerous to stereotype gender communications in absolute terms, ignoring differences is equally dangerous. Nursing is one of the most gender-structured occupations in the United States, gender communication becomes a diversity element critical to understand if collaborative efforts are to be strengthened. Generally, men are more task oriented and women more relationship oriented. While it is dangerous to stereotype gender communications in absolute terms, ignoring differences is equally dangerous. Instead of trying to ignore the differences try to use them to your advantage.
Lesson #3: Develop Constructive Conflict Resolution Skills Conflict can both hinder and facilitate collaboration. Conflict is experienced within a partnership context; it needs to be discussed, not avoided. A useful model for handling conflict by offering stages for conflict resolution. These stages include: using reflection to prepare one's self, starting a difficult conversation, and keeping it focused no matter how the other person responds. This process is particularly effective in one-on-one situations. No matter what the situation is, not one side is better than the other. Both need to be recognized. (Gardner, D. B. 2005).
Lesson #4: Use Your Power to Create Win-Win Situations The sharing of power and the recognition of one's own power base is part of effective collaboration. Instead of trying to have a who is right and who is wrong outcome, try to figure out a way that it encompasses both sides (Gardner, D. B. 2005).
Lesson #5: Master Interpersonal and Process Skills Both interpersonal and organizational skills are needed for successful collaboration. Important interpersonal attributes include clinical competence, cooperation, flexibility self-confidence and assertiveness. An organizational skills are essential for collaboration in systems thinking, the ability to see the contextual situation from the perspective of the entire system. This perspective involves understanding the connections between the multiple