I enjoyed the better part of an hour, attending the bite-sized Future 15 panels at SXSW 2012. At just 15 minutes a pop, these talks were focused, direct, and spanned a variety of topics that kept my interest. One that I enjoyed in particular, was by Kyra Edeker of Project202: Empathy Building Tools for Better Collaboration.

Kyra prescribed three tools, to help teams work better:

  • Deep Listening
  • Non-attachment
  • Generosity

Deep Listening
Deep listening is all about being present and communicating it through body language. So put away those phones during meetings! Also, practice simply listening to what people are saying, rather than for when you can say something next. And don’t worry about silence – just let it sit. Sometimes these pauses will spur the speaker to share something they wouldn’t have if you had interjected.

Not to be mistaken for apathy, non-attachment is about being open – meaning it doesn’t have to be your way or the highway. To do this, research: ask questions that might change your current position; reframe before you go into a discussion; and observe what’s pressuring your coworkers – deadlines, budgets, family, etc. This added flexibility and awareness will lead to a better team-built solution that everyone can get behind.

To work well, we need 3 positive interactions for every 1 negative interactions. Through generosity, we can create those positive interactions and give our coworkers the gift of play, fun, and brainstorming. As a project manager what can I give my coworkers to get the project done? Is there more scoping, risk analysis, a roomier schedule that I can provide? As a designer, how can I make it easier for the developer? Can I take the design assets to the next step? Generosity is not about giving away power, but creating an environment for collaboration.