I have been looking for a way to connect with people who I can’t dance with.

With an otherwise useless man I found connection in the garden, weeding, harvesting, tying. We conflicted terribly in any projects involving a machine, but when working by hand, at a pace defined by variables we could see and understand, we experienced a sweet connection.

I knew that “doing things together” was something I liked, and had even built projects solely to create a chance to work alongside people whose skills I enjoy.

But I’m currently on a team with whom I often struggle because roles are not clear. I’m not slow. They are frantic. In a panic they do things already in process rather than thinking about what else needs to be done, and especially about things they can do that I don’t know how to.

Instead of feeling connected through sharing the work, I often screech at them “That’s MY work!” I’m wondering what makes the difference between connected collaboration and invasive collaboration. If I’m denied a sense of success, that’s always disappointing, sometimes infuriating.


Sweet joining…

  • Whenever the task requires more than one person, like moving a big table or folding a sheet.
  • When we create gratuitous independence, like relaying plates to the table instead of making round trips.
  • When s/he observes what I am doing and sees a way to ease it by joining: …Handing me the next tool I’ll need… Taking some of the weight of the pot I’m holding… Stabilizing the surface I’m working on… breaking my unwieldy task into parts and taking one of them, so my work is smoother… Observing the system I’ve created and copying… 
  • When we have eye contact and smiles while working alongside.

Walking across my feet …

  • When someone finishes my task behind my back, without communicating or joins racing me to completion. (Maybe I was enjoying doing it slowly…)
  • When someone impatiently takes something out of my hands.
  • When someone asks me to do something and then does it themselves anyway.
  • When I’m given a task and then it’s cancelled or the parameters change and no one tells me they have undone or changed my work.

When my boss diverts the task and deletes my work, I feel loss, followed by rage. Knowing that I have no authority or righteousness to determine anything about someone else’s business, I submit. In that submission is alienation, detaching my sense of self from my work, which is not easy. It often takes me half a day to recover.

Originally posted onSyntax of Power