Mind your P’s and Q’s

Have you ever been told to mind your p’s and q’s? Chances are you were being told to mind your manners. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on where the p’s and q’s saying came from but it is widely understood as to what it means. Hearing the saying is enough to jog you into being aware of your manners.

I look forward to an equally useful jog for us to mind our p’s when we collaborate. By p’s I mean Perspective, Power, Privilege and Pain.

Taking part in a collaborative process without minding these p’s is possible, yet it is a little like swimming across the surface of a coral reef. You will be oblivious to the diverse underwater ecosystem that can be experienced by diving a little deeper.

We all see and experience the world through our own lens. For effective collaboration we need to bring a range of lenses from a diversity of people. This enables the necessary perspectives, knowledge and values for solution building.

The p to be minded is the profound belief that the different perspectives are needed and valued.

Power is about the ability to affect change. There are many ways of understanding power. A collaborative process challenges some of the more traditional ‘power over’ concepts that arise through authority or knowledge.

Instead collaborative processes value ‘shared power’ where all collaborators have power to affect change.

The p to be minded is to be honest about existing power dynamics and to pursue an intention to share power with all collaborators.

A privilege is a special right or advantage granted or available only to a particular person or group. Brenē Brown describes it as “what we get that we haven’t earned.” She posits that it is crucial to own our stories, including our privileges, in order to write a different story of equity.

The p to be minded is to be honest about your own privilege and how this privilege contributes to existing dilemmas and may contribute to desired futures.

By acknowledging our privilege we acknowledge others’ pain. It is that pain that is often the prompt for people to gather and collaborate as a means of alleviating the pain.

The p to be minded is that those with lived experience of pain must be a fundamental part of collaborative processes to build futures without the pain.

The p’s will always be present when humans come together. They are hot spots and tackling them can be a confronting activity. This blog is not advocating tackling the p’s as the first step in your collaborative process. Rather I am advocating that all collaborators be mindful of their p’s as a necessary and ultimately fruitful path to tread when collaborating.

In this way, bit-by-bit we will experience deeply rewarding collaborations and collectively create desirable outcomes for our society.

PS. This blog was inspired in part by the amazing Brené Brown’s livestream on Facebook where she talks about Charlottesville in August 2017.

Comments are closed.