A few weeks ago now I ended a blog post on a bit of a cliffhanger. I said I wanted to write about trust and communication in collaborative work, but first I had to send a few emails – even though I didn’t know exactly what to say. It was difficult for me, but absolutely necessary.

Communication is definitely something I would have tried to approach differently if I had the chance to begin my co-design project again. One of the main difficulties has been that my PhD has changed a lot since the co-design element began. Arguably, it has also become a smaller part of my overarching research project. On top of that, this year I have done many other things, alongside my own research. But these are excuses. I want people to think the best of me, and it is sometimes difficult to admit that I don’t know, or that I don’t have a clear plan. In hindsight, I should have communicated more often, through shorter messages, and I should have trusted my partners with my own uncertainties and insecurities. Instead, there have been long stretches of silence. The longer those silences became, the harder it was to break them – especially as there was nothing definite to break them with. Then, when not all the replies were 100% positive, I became defensive. While I was nervous that my partners were fed up with me, there may have been elements of them being afraid I was fed up with them – or that I would be, if I knew…

I’m going to work on being clear and concise – and on communicating more often. My research has changed a lot over the past year; my partners’ interests have probably changed too. It’s time to get back on track, but I need to remind myself that we should be doing that together, not waiting for me to figure it out and then try to get everyone else on-board.

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