Friday, July 11, 2008

Collaboration at its finest

When I teach conflict management in my Interpersonal Communication classes, I always tell my students that collaboration is the ideal way to solve a problem. When we collaborate, each person gets what they need and want, sometimes by being especially creative. This is different from compromise because in compromise one or both people lose out on something that they needed or wanted. Sometimes compromise is the only way to solve a problem, but it's always better to attempt collaboration first.

This morning, my kids offered me a great example of collaboration. Both kids wanted to sit on their own little blue chairs in front of the television to watch Go, Diego, Go! They were fighting about it, screaming at each other, and I told them, "As soon as you work out a solution, I'll come turn on the TV." Although they usually come up with some sort of solution when I use this tactic, this solution was the most creative I've seen yet. If I had solved the problem for them, Brynn would have ended up sitting on the big adult-sized sofa and Callie would have gotten to sit on one of the little blue chairs right in front of the TV. Brynn would have been bummed, but she would have compromised for the greater good -- watching Diego.

The girls went to work figuring out the situation for themselves, and once they quieted down, I was delighted by what I saw. They had decided to arrange their chairs movie-theater style, so that Callie was sitting behind Brynn, each of them in their own little blue chair centered in front of the TV. It's amazing to me what my kids can come up with when offered a bit of direction but then left to their own devices. Of course...that's not safe to do with markers around, but when the situation only involves little blue chairs, it seems to work out well. Their little minds are open to solutions that my boxed-in mind could never fathom. to keep them oh-so-pliable. That's my challenge.


Alison Francis said...

I love this that they would come to this conclusion themselves. I like that Brynn was still in the front though. Fun to see your family on here!

Hillary Dickman said...

Yeah, I wish I had been watching to see how they decided who would sit where. I mean, an adult would probably prefer not to be in the front row, right? But a little kid? I'm not sure how they worked that out. Brynn also managed to snag the bigger chair that officially belongs to Callie.