Collaborative conversations: keep the communication going

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Back in 2010, a young visionary by the name of Rachel Botsman coined the phrase “collaborative economy” and predicted the rise of “share” businesses such as Uber and Airbnb with her best-selling book, What’s Mine is Yours.

Five years on, Rachel Botsman’s Ted talks on the subject have been viewed more than two million times and digital technology has seen couch surfing, crowd funding and car sharing transformed into bona fide businesses on a global scale. By way of example, from humble beginnings in 2007, Airbnb has become the go-to accommodation for business and leisure travellers worldwide, notching up 55 million guests in 2015.

But while the internet has given rise to this new era of the shared or collaborative economy, experts in “digital influence” are concerned about our diminishing capacity to talk to each other.

According to international corporate coach and author, Peter Anthony, research has found that while we are using our mobile phones for up to two hours per day we spend only 12 minutes, or 10 per cent of that time, actually talking to each other.

“The rest of the time is spent texting, using the Internet or listening to music,” he said.

“The average length of a conversation on a mobile phone has continued to decline since 2007 and the average mobile phone conversation is now just 90 seconds long.

“It’s endemic of what’s happening to us culturally, in the western world – we are actually talking to each other less. And it seems, when we are talking to each other we spend less time changing our minds and more time keeping our minds intact.

“We have to ask ourselves: is there any more important 21st century skill than being able to sustain a coherent, confident conversation?

“Conversational competence might be the single most overlooked skill we are failing to teach our kids. Show me a generation of kids that have been raised to have quality conversations and collaborate with each other and we will end many of the problems we are having in education today.”

Peter believes that “collaborative conversations” are the single biggest opportunity in education today.

As director of executive education at the Australian Catholic University, Peter has been sharing his expertise with principals, teachers, students and parents in our schools.

In the past three years, his “collaborative conversation” workshops have evolved from teacher-to-teacher programs, to teacher-to-student, student-to-student and now parent-to-teacher.

He’s run a series of successful workshops in the Parramatta and Broken Bay dioceses and has recently trained four facilitators to run his workshops with parents of Catholic school students.

Put simply, he’s teaching “collaboration in schools, one conversation at a time”.

Peter describes collaboration in education as “a community of caring individuals coming together to work towards the one common goal: positive outcomes for student learning”.

“Show me a collaborative parent and I’ll show you a collaborative family. Show me a collaborative principal and I’ll show you a collaborative school.”

According to Peter, “authenticity and a spirit of optimism” are the key components of a successful collaborative conversation.

“As a parent, partner, friend or colleague, we need to let ourselves talk with our whole hearts,” he said.

“Collaboration only gets easy when you have done all the hard work of building trust and building relationship. At the end of the day, I’m on a mission to get people to talk to each other more, and hopefully leave the world a better place.”

Want to know more about how to have a “collaborative conversation” with your child, your partner or your child’s teacher? Find out more on the CCSP website.