The other night, I attended a talk at Macalester College about theater and social equity. The word brilliant is overused, but forgive me because I do think it especially applies to the two featured guests: Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento and Sarah Bellamy. I took a lot of notes. One thing I didn’t have to write down is this truth bomb: Collaboration is a skill.
Collaboration is a SKILL.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before. It feels radical. Cláudia said it. She also said that a lot of people think, “Oh, I’m a good person, so I’m a good collaborator. But that’s not how it works.”
I wish someone had told me this when I was in college.
This tidy statement does a few remarkable things:
First, it makes visible what’s typically invisible. It elevates collaboration. Collaboration isn’t a “soft skill.” It is something that can be honed and practiced. It is worthy of respect.
Second, it demystifies collaboration. It’s not just something that women are good at or some people just happen to be better at than others but what can you do? There are specific behvaiors that people who are good collaborators do. Those behaviors are transmitable. They are something we can ALL do better at. No excuses. Only opportunities.
PS It is not lost on me that this wisdom came from an apparently female, Latinx POC. THIS is just one more reason why we need more women and more POC in positions of leadership. It’s not just a matter of swapping out suits for skirts and less melanin for more. It’s a matter of whole new ways of thinking.