Blog Post

Transcript – Building Trusting Relationships

by | 23 Sep, 2022 | Blog, Collaboratory Podcast, Transcripts

To ensure accessibility we are committed to providing transcripts of all our podcast episodes, including our short trailer for Season 1 – you can listen to the audio version here.

Episode 4: Building Trusting Relationships

[00:00:00] Ali Clinch: We each had parts of this show that we would’ve taken responsibility for, and I didn’t like the way the last moment of the play was going, and I said to Robin, can I just change the ending? We were on stage at this point with light, so we would’ve been hours before opening, and he looked at me and he’s like, “Yeah, sure.”

And so, I changed the final moments of a scene that he’d been working on for a month, and then he was like, “Actually, yeah, no, I really like that.” That’s a measure of how collaboratively we work. 

[00:00:33] Nicole Deen: That’s the voice of Ali Clinch, artist and Creative Programs Manager at Australian based Rebus Theatre, a company focused on inclusive theatre making for social and environmental change, talking about her collaboration with Rebus’s Artistic Director, Robin Davidson. I’m Nicole Deen. 

[00:00:51] Maya Haviland: And I’m Maya Haviland. Welcome to Collaboratory. Trust and the relationships from which trust stems are critical foundations to co-creative processes. Whether making theatre shows, or trying to pass legislation across political divides, trusting relationships between people involved in any collaborative enterprise is an important ingredient to getting things done.

[00:01:16] Nicole Deen: In today’s episode, we’re going to hear from a number of people who have firsthand experience fostering trusting relationships for very different types of co-creative enterprises. Shortly, we’ll meet Natalie Barr and ex political staffer who’s thought closely about what it takes to build trusting relationships in the context of national politics, and Aruna Venkatachalam, who works in community and international development, building partnerships and collaborations.

[00:01:42] Maya Haviland: Later in the show, I’ll talk with Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak, a friend and collaborator, who has long worked as a stage manager in live performance and hear insights from her practice about building trust with others and learning to trust yourself as well. Before we dive in, let’s return to Ali Clinch from Rebus Theatre, reflecting on her relationship with co-director Robin Davidson that enabled them to change the ending of the theatre show just hours before it opened on stage.

[00:02:10] Ali Clinch: Robin and I have done a lot of work together, we worked in Playback for years before Rebus started, and I think that builds up a certain level of trust, and we both really respect each other’s work. We have a strong professional friendship and personal friendship has grown out of that. Almost any other director in a non-applied theatre sense, or not working in the collaboration that we work, you would never dream of saying, “I’m just gonna touch your artistic work, I’m gonna touch the end of it.” You would just bite your lip and go, “oh, okay, this is their work”, or you’d do it, but there’d be like a massive backlash. It’s one of the things that’s really unique about the way Rebus works, and really nice about the way that Robin and I work, is that we are very truthful with each other, honest with each other and we almost always say, “Yes. Okay. Try that. Let’s try that. Let’s try that.” 

[00:02:56] Nicole Deen: That instinct that Ali just described to say, “yes, let’s try that”, is one of the benefits of working with people that you know, really well and whose creative ideas you can trust. Although the idea being suggested might be scary or untested, if we trust the people we are collaborating with, we are often more willing to try things that might be outside of our comfort zones. 

[00:03:17] Maya Haviland: In fact, the very existence of Collaboratory podcast is an example of a trusting collaboration based on saying, “yes, let’s try that”. 

I’d been tossing this idea of a podcast about co creativity around for a while, and I kept raising it with you, Nicole, ’cause I really wanted to do it, but I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. But every time I talked about it, I could tell you thought it was a bit of a far out idea, or maybe just outside of your comfort zone. I also thought you’d enjoy the process if I could just get you to give it a go.

[00:03:46] Nicole Deen: I was in a bit of a career transition moment, and you floated the idea of making this podcast together. I’d never made a podcast, but you and I had worked together on a number of things over the years, and I knew we could figure things out together. So eventually I said, “yes, let’s try it”. The relationship we have, particularly the trust in each other’s skills and capacities and the knowledge that we can talk things out if we hit a difficult stage has stood us in really good stead as we’ve worked our way through a project that hasn’t followed a straight line or unfolded quite as we imagined it would. 

Yes. It’s certainly been a learning process for us both and we’ve had to lean on our friendship a few times to get us through some challenging bits. As we’ve interviewed people about their practices of co-creativity, the importance of trust and relationships have been expressed as essential ingredients by almost everyone, but trust can feel a little amorphous. You know when you have it, but not always how to get it. We talk about it in the abstract, but we don’t always know what ingredients it’s made up with in a particular relationship or context. Sometimes it gets cracked or broken and that loss of trust can have all sorts of unexpected consequences.

[00:04:55] Maya Haviland: And equally, trust in ourselves and others is often a critical ingredientthat we rely on to get us through the parts of collaborative and creative processes that are really challenging. Ali Clinch.

[00:05:07] Ali Clinch: The trust when we establish that we both know what we are doing, but we are not the be all and end all of knowledge. We’re here to work collaboratively with you and make changes and adjustments accordingly, but we do carry that corporate knowledge of what does it actually take to put a play on from start to finish. And recognizing once you’ve done it enough times, you’re like, “oh yes, we’re at that point where everyone’s tired and cranky, and oh, yep, we’ll get through that. Oh, we’re at that point where we feel like we’re never gonna be ready. Oh, we’re at that point where we need two more days, but there aren’t two more days, and so you can carry that stress that your cast will feel and be like, no, that’s okay. This is the point that we’re supposed to be at. This is what it’s supposed to feel like today.” This is part of the tension of creating work is on this day, at this point, before opening, you’re not gonna feel satisfied. That’s good. That means we’ve reached that point. And so it’s not directing a show as in you do this and this and stand here, and I like it this way. It’s directing a show as in, I know what the process is and I’ll carry us through that, and now I’m gonna take a lower status than everybody else find out what you have to offer, and I think that’s at the core of what Rebus does. 

[00:06:19] Maya Haviland: Collaborating with others is no doubt, much more effective when we trust the skills and knowledge of those that we are working with. Our relationships with our collaborators are also helped by having clarity on the roles that we’re each playing in a particular process, like knowing who is the director of the show. 

But what Ali describes is more than just being good at particular technical things or knowing what tasks people do in different roles. She’s speaking about the trust that can be built from demonstrating a mastery of a creative cycle, knowing the stages that a group is likely to go through as they do a co-creative process together like Rebus does when they make theatre shows with non-professional performers and storytellers. Being able to navigate through the feelings and relationships that commonly occur at different stages of a co-creative process can build trust in a group and help people feel safer about trying something new or unknown. Building rapport and a sense of trust in the process whilst a group of people are trying to do something emergent together can be that critical magic ingredient, the difference between giving up and keeping on going. Here’s Robin Davidson, Artistic Director of Rebus Theatre. 

[00:07:30] Robin Davidson: Often in group devising processes, I will be quite explicit at the beginning that, you know, at some point roundabout here, my role will change in this group. Sometimes there’s points in the process where you go “now is the point where we are being a little bit less collaborative and I’m being a bit more of a director”. Sometimes that’s a slow gradual thing that doesn’t have a particular clear stop point, but at some point, the people with most experience in how you make theatre work need to draw in their experience more to say, “no, that’s not gonna work”.

Sometimes it’s the job of the director to be the voice of pragmatism, to know how much money is left in the budget and whether you can afford to do something. It is sometimes the role of the director to say no, and to be the enforcer of the limitations, which the world imposes on us. I mean, there is a process of building up trust and that’s partly about genuinely listening to people throughout the process and generally being professional, being organized and prepared, and just being somebody who knows what they’re doing and knows what they’re talking about builds a level of trust with a group. If this person says, “no, we can’t do that”, then there’s probably a good reason.

[00:08:52] Nicole Deen: Working with people whose skills and knowledge you trust is certainly an important enabler of co-creative possibilities. On a personal level, it helps to push boundaries and do things we might not do on our own, like make a podcast when you’ve never made one before or follow some other creative path you couldn’t imagine for yourself. In collaborative groups, it can help to navigate through the challenging moments of bringing a creative process to fruition, but how do we develop trust when we are working with people we don’t know well or have existing rapport with. What’s the role of relationship building in context where collaboration is needed between people divided by cultural or political differences? Let’s meet two guests who both have experience cultivating collaborations across differences and scales. Natalie Barr is currently the Chief Operating Officer at the Global Centre for women’s Leadership. 

[00:09:37] Natalie Barr: Previously been a Political Staffer, I’ve been in the Public Service for about 10 years, and in a Leadership Think Tank in, um, the university sector as well. So, I’ve done a little bit of everything and a lot of things that require working with other people. 

And Aruna Venkatachalam. 

[00:09:52] Aruna Venkatachalam: I am currently the General Manager of Partnerships and International at Young Change Agents, which is a social enterprise that is based in Australia, but also has aspirations to go overseas.

[00:10:06] Nicole Deen: Both Natalie and Aruna have worked in context where they have had to think closely about how to build relationships and trust between people who don’t know each other, or don’t necessarily have much in common. Say between a community group and a funding organization who may seek to work together on a shared issue, but covered it with different priorities and understandings, as Aruna does.

Or across political differences, like when negotiating national legislation, as Natalie did in her role as Political Staffer in the Australian Parliament. Even at the scale of national politics, the reality is that getting things done relies on relationships and relationships are built between individuals. Natalie Barr.

[00:10:47] Natalie Barr: Parties have positions on things, but those positions are developed by individuals within those parties more often than not. So, before you get to parliament, you’ve gotta work with the Party Room, and generally in whatever area of policy you’re working in, there will be particular people who have a very strong interest in that within your party. And so if you’re doing your collaboration properly, you’re making sure you engage with those people as you do the development so that you know the issues that they wanna see, the things that the constituents are telling them, and the things that kind of need to be built into the bill from the start.

And then equally as you move into taking a bill through the Parliament across different parties, then you are also usually dealing with very interested individuals. So, when you’re in government, usually dealing with the Shadow Minister, the Shadow Minister’s office, particular people who might be on a committee that have a real interest in something. You know, it’s not necessarily easy to form a relationship with someone on the opposite side of politics, but it’s so important and so useful to have that kind of polite working relationship. You certainly don’t have to be best friends, but you need to be able to pick up the phone and make a phone call when the time is important. 

[00:11:59] Nicole Deen: A big part of getting something complex done is building relationships with the right people, people who are aligned with the bigger project, who have influence and understanding of an issue. 

This may seem obvious in an overtly political context, but it’s work that also needs to happen when building relationships across the boundaries of organizations and interest groups too. 

Aruna Venkatachalam’s work involves establishing working partnerships across community organizations and funding bodies to achieve various forms of social change. So, what’s needed to build relationships when trying to get a collaborative process off the ground in a community context? 

[00:12:36] Aruna Venkatachalam: It’s hugely dependent on a number of things. So, it depends on the time invested to build a relationship with that organization and to build relationships in a way where you’re identifying key people who are respected and trusted within that organization who hold positions, not necessarily of positional leadership, but influence leadership.

So, it’s understanding who in that organization has credibility and has built or engendered trust in that organization because they’ve done some great work, they talk about what they wanna do, and they do it. They have good relationships with the community. They do what they say they’re gonna do. They’ve been there for a while, and they can engender that sort of longer term plan that people know that they will stick around for. It’s those kinds of people that are great to get to know and to understand, what’s their background, what’s their motivations for the work that they do, trying to build points of genuine commonalities. 

Aruna also believes that relationships are critical, not just with the people you are making things with, but also with funding bodies and people who resource particular work. 

I’m not just talking about reporting; I’m talking about scheduling catchups at different times. I’m not saying they’re on speed dial or anything like that, but more from the perspective of keeping them in the loop as to how the project is going, but also how the project is evolving as a result of it being implemented. And so, if they’re hearing along the way, how it’s evolving and how it’s actually leading to genuine outcomes, some experiences suggested that they then may slightly flexible with the way that funding is actually delivered.

[00:14:19] Nicole Deen: While I can appreciate the importance of building good working relationships with diverse and influential people, in my experience that’s often easier said than done. In practice, what does it take to actually build relationships across potentially quite different values and worldviews? Natalie Barr. 

[00:14:36] Natalie Barr: It is easier on an individual level, because if you can see the person as a person, it makes it a lot easier, and if you take the time and make the effort to see where they’re coming from, understand what their drivers are, and then you can look for areas of interest, you know, areas of common interest, common goals. So, everyone wants high quality schooling, or everyone wants Indigenous kids to get a better go at school. So, you’d need to understand what drives that person and try and really start with the areas where you have a common interest and a common goal. And then once you’ve worked through those areas that you can agree on, then you can start to look at some of the things that you can’t. It’s really about treating them as a human and really looking and trying to empathize with what you can, and then taking it from there until you’ve got fewer and fewer bits that you’re having to argue over and where the difference is.

[00:15:28] Nicole Deen: Spending time with people to find common ground and know what’s important to each other is clearly critical to building relationships and that process can require explicit intention and investment of attention. Some people use simple strategies like scheduling extra time in a first meeting so that conversations can take a more natural flow or being sure to share a bit of their own personal story when they meet someone to build connection through sharing their values and experiences. A bit like getting started in a new romantic relationship, the openness and time invested early on can lay good foundations for navigating collaborations when difficulties or differences arise. But of course, despite my own personal preferences, not all business gets done over sharing long pots of tea and personal stories. Working across political device or on topics that are fraught or conflictual means cups of tea are not the way all relationships are developed or maintained. Spending time together, however, is still a crucial ingredient, even if we need to find creative ways to make the investment of time acceptable to the cultures and contexts we’re working in. Natalie Barr. 

[00:16:36] Natalie Barr: Some people might have cups of tea, but it’s a kind of battleground environment, and so you’re trying to find these acceptable ways of forming the relationships with people on the other side of politics because you don’t wanna be seen, you know, hanging out with the other side and, oh, where did that leak come from? You know, there is a kind of perception that you shouldn’t be too close and have, you know, really strong relationships with people from the other side of politics. 

I think that there’s a lot to be said for some of the sporting activity that happens outside of Parliament House. You know, you might see press footage occasionally of a whole range of people playing basketball or going for a run or something like that. Those clubs and those cross party engagements are actually really important for the running of the country because it’s in those kind of non-political environments where these people are just treating each other as people, and they’re developing the rapport that they can draw on when they need to, most of the time, you don’t really wanna talk to each other, but you know, when you need to, you can, and you have that kind of common ground.

[00:17:39] Nicole Deen: Investing time in understanding the perspectives and values of potential collaborators and knowing each other well enough to be able to act on that common ground when the time is right seems to be essential. This is the case, whether you are pushing a piece of legislation through the National Parliament, trying to make a piece of community theatre, or working towards a collaboration whose outcome might not be quite as clear, like a social change initiative with young people.

Aruna believes that the crux of making any creative collaborations work is to first spend time on why we are trying to work together, which helps to then cultivate an openness to new ideas and approaches as we figure out how we might realistically achieve the outcomes we aligned around. 

[00:18:21] Aruna Venkatachalam: To me, the crux of a good partnership, genuinely trying to seek to understand what that “why” looks like first, and then being able to develop those initiatives on the basis of what is actually going to achieve a good outcome. That takes time, takes time, and it takes a genuine kind of listening, that sense of sitting with uncertainty, sitting with a sense that we might not necessarily know what it’s going to look like, that we all have preconceived experiences and knowledge and trying to sit with that and really listen and understand what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, which then leads to then being able to actually provide some meaningful insights or meaningful solutions. And the other aspect I would talk about is being really clear and honest about what we can do and what we can’t do, and where we have knowledge based on previous experience, and where we are still building knowledge as well, because that kind of transparency and openness goes a long way. 

[00:19:21] Nicole Deen: This is something we hear people talk about so often when they’re establishing collaborative relationships, the importance of being honest and transparent about what you can and can’t do, what you do and don’t bring to the table, but we don’t always know what’s actually going to be possible in any particular circumstance.

That’s the value of co-creativity that things can happen together that simply aren’t possible alone, and our capacities as individuals, groups, and organizations can be expanded in unexpected ways when we open up to working with others. Aruna believes that sometimes the best approach is just to get started and pilot something together.

[00:20:00] Aruna Venkatachalam: Because what people say they need and what people say they’re comfortable with might be different to what ends up happening in real life. What is important I think is to be able to have the conversations about people’s clear roles and responsibilities and understand what their skills and strengths are, but then identify a project, a small-scale project, that we can work on together. And in doing that, we then start to understand and really unpack the dynamics. Somebody described it to me beautifully the other day, people sometimes say what they think that you wanna hear, but then the gold comes in doing and actually understanding the value that we create and the value that each organization is bringing to the table.

So, it comes back to that fundamental foundational trust, because if there is this genuine sense of there’s this skillset that we would like to develop, that we don’t actually hold, and the reason why we wanna develop that is because we actually wanna enter this space, we don’t understand this particular context, or we don’t understand this particular group of skills and we would like that support, you start to see it in action. And it being a smaller pilot type scenario, there’s less risk and there’s also depending, particularly in a cultural sense, there’s less shame or losing face, which is something that is important to consider. 

[00:21:25] Nicole Deen: Piloting a small project or a simple shared initiative gives us a chance to figure out how we work together and how value is created for the different players involved. Much like in personal relationships, doing something with relatively low stakes, like spending a few hours having a picnic with someone you’re getting to know is usually a safer first step than going away on a four-day holiday together. 

By tackling something relatively easy and safe. We can build rapport and build confidence and shared understanding in low pressure contexts. We are also less likely to find ourselves in situations where people might lose face or get mired in controversy. Natalie Barr.

[00:22:03] Natalie Barr: When we’re looking at a piece of legislation, I guess the trick is to start early, before it becomes something really high profile and really sensitive. You know, people often talk about Julia Gillard had a really hard time as Prime Minister, but she had a huge legislative agenda, and she got a huge amount of legislation through. And most of that was not sexy legislation. Most of that was rats and mice and things that needed to happen to make the country run properly. So, a lot of it is making sure that for the things that aren’t controversial, everyone wants the country to run. Let’s just kind of make sure that we’re respecting each other, keeping the lines of communication open. We’d offer briefings to the Shadow Ministers. So, for particularly for non-controversial bills, you call them up, you’d say, “Hey, in a couple of weeks, we’re gonna be introducing this. This is what it does. Do you want to have a briefing from the Department?” So, you’d offer that up to say, look, we’re not trying to hide anything, there’s nothing untoward here, if you don’t trust me, I can organize a meeting for you with the officials who’ve drafted the legislation and come up with the policy. They can tell you what it’s about. You can ask them any questions and then we can just get it done. 

And so obviously for more controversial bills, the process is a bit different. You might have different people having those meetings. So, for something non-controversial, it might be an advisor having a meeting with another advisor. For more controversial legislation, you might have the Minister talking to the Shadow Minister. So, depending on the stakes and the scale and the level of controversy, you’ve got different people talking to try and smooth the path to get these things through. 

[00:23:37] Maya Haviland: Both Natalie and Aruna highlighted that sometimes relationships are based on positions of authority and status in a particular context, and at other times they work best when focused on who has influence. For example, you might send a staffer who has a good relationship with someone on the other side of politics for a particular kind of conversation, and at other times it’s important to send the Minister to ensure respect is shown to those you are trying to collaborate with. 

Knowing that there is often a distinction between those who have positional authority and those who have cultural influence is an important aspect of relationship building in all sorts of contexts.

I certainly always pay attention to the difference between who has formal responsibilities for things on an org chart and who actually gets things done in a particular organization. At the beginning of this episode, Robin Davidson from Rebus Theatre highlighted how the role of the director in a theatre has the positional authority to say yes or no to important creative decisions, a function that is critical for keeping a creative process moving forward to an outcome. So, if the director is the one who has positional authority to make decisions that keep everyone from going round and round in creative circles, then the stage manager is the person who has responsibility for ensuring a safe space for the process of co-creativity to unfold, the one with significant influence on the culture in the room that makes collaborative creativity possible. 

To learn more about what the craft of stage managing can teach us about building trusting relationships, I spoke with Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak, our last guest in today’s episode. Anni is a woman of many talents. She is a writer, curator and educator, and also has worked for many years as a stage manager in theatre and live performance. 

[00:25:36] Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak: I work broadly across the arts. I work as a curator and as an arts writer, and I spend a lot of time working in the theatre, mainly with dance, but also across all the genres of performance.

So, the role of a stage manager is to support the director and the cast and the crew to bring a show to the stage, to bring it to the audience. I think of it as creating a safe space that has boundaries, but in which people can fully explore the creativity during rehearsals and then to really hold the space once we get into production week.

Yes, of course the director has the ultimate responsibility over what that show looks like, but actually it’s a stage manager that creates the atmosphere in the room, the culture of the room. In the way that I work as a stage manager, I see myself as being completely responsible for that. 

What’s happening in the rehearsal room is extraordinary. Somebody with a vision is asking a group of people that perhaps they’ve never met before, or only met to cast, to realize that vision, but in an unknown way. It’s like magic, Maya, what goes on there. And in order for it to work, yes, it has to have formal boundaries; start times, finish times, break times, food times, warm up times, but in such a way that there’s freedom to create. Because at the end of three weeks, a curtain’s going to go up and an audience are going to be watching something that is as yet unmade. It’s really, you know, miraculous and magical. 

[00:27:28] Maya Haviland: So, how does a stage manager like Anni build trust and the necessary relationships to get a show through to opening night in a few short weeks of rehearsal? 

[00:27:38] Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak: Okay, for the first couple of days, really, I’m in the room, I meet everybody, I make sure they’ve got what they need, I make sure they know where they could get coffee. I get to know them in as short a time as possible. So, I am closely observing everybody in that room, closely observing how they’re interacting, looking for any sign of anything that’s going on with them emotionally or physically that I can immediately step in and assist with, solve, any conflicts, nipping them in the bud. Is the director tricky or do they have some special requirements? What are they and how can I make that go really smoothly? If there is communication to be done between those who are running the venue and the company, how can I just make those really as smooth as silk? 

As the rehearsal period goes on for me, the communication that I start having with the technical crew, production managers, lighting sound, it starts to gather pace. So, as that, which has been created begins to come together, the baskets starts to become quite full, full, full, and then it’s a matter of juggling crew, making sure people stick to their timetables, making sure there’s enough time to plot lights, making sure there’s enough time to block on the stage, all of these elements that come together, and all the way through managing people. Are they well, are they happy? Why are these people having a conflict? Solving that conflict, not creating conflicts of my own. 

[00:29:19] Maya Haviland: One of the aspects of stage managing live performance, is that anything and everything can happen, and it’s Anni’s job to respond to the unknown and keep the show on the road. Anni talks about the importance of developing a kind of muscle memory to be able to quickly respond. 

[00:29:36] Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak: It’s what I mean when I talk about a muscle memory that under stress or in difficult circumstances, the how of doing something, it just kicks in and it takes over, and I guess that’s a function of having done that particular task, calling a show, many, many times, under always different circumstances. This idea of being able to step into something at any stage, because I have faith in the skills that I have, I have faith that, that process, that muscle memory, those skills that are just carrying me forward. 

For example, in a show towards the end of last year, this show was set in the round, and I was quite close to a bank of seating and I was calling the lighting cues and then I became aware that somebody not very far from me in the audience was having an epileptic fit. I felt this sort of split occur in my mind and one part of me was very focused on and kept calling the show, and the other part was contacting front of house and having a wheelchair bought round and organizing to get that patron out of the theatre safely, without it disrupting the show.

That’s what I mean when I talk about a muscle memory. It’s not just about dealing with simultaneous acts that are occurring, it’s about opening yourself to the flow and just trusting that the words will come out of your mouth, or that your hands will do the actions they need to, or that you’ll respond appropriately. I have great faith in process. 

[00:31:20] Maya Haviland: When things get hard in a creative task, we often say “trust the process”. And to do that, we might fall back on the skills and professionalism of those who understand the stages of a creative cycle, like Ali Clinch and Robin Davidson from Reuss Theatre spoke about at the start of this episode.

What Anni is talking about is the ability to trust yourself to be able to respond, to have enough experience and confidence, to know you won’t freeze and you can survive through even the most stressful or uncertain of moments. Often when I’m working with students or mentoring people, I talk about the inevitable moment in a creative process where you feel completely overwhelmed or at sea and you freak out, or freeze, or want to quit. I call it the “what the fuck moment”. 

So, what is the relationship between what Anni calls “muscle memory”, and being able to trust a process and stay with it, even when we’re unsure, or fearful, or don’t know what’s going to happen next? 

[00:32:18] Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak: So, two things then, the first thing is when in doubt, never be afraid to ask for help or to say, “I don’t know how to do this”. No matter how far through a process you are, or how much of the leader you are supposed to be being, just to ask for help. No problem. People, they want to help. But the other thing I wanted to say about that is how fear can stop us. 

So, we’re in the what the fuck moment. There’s a little voice that’s waiting to say to you, “what the fuck… I can’t do this”, “what the fuck… I don’t have these skills”. Having been there a number of times, myself, I think you just have to say to yourself, “take a breath, have a laugh at yourself, if you can. Of course, you can do it. You wouldn’t be there if you couldn’t do it. You wouldn’t have been asked to do this if you couldn’t do it. You wouldn’t have said yes if you didn’t believe you could do it.” So, I think the idea is to keep your heart open all the time and just to have faith in yourself and in your collaborators. 

[00:33:29] Maya Haviland: So, we’ve talked about a range of ways to build and sustain relationships at personal and very public scales, as well as the importance of trust in others and ourselves when trying to enact co-creative processes. There is of course, much more to say on this topic, but I reckon that Anni sums up a lot of the important stuff with an analogy about co-creative relationships and cooking. 

[00:33:53] Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak: For me, the three important things in cooking are time, temperature, and love, and I just think it is a complete analogy for co-creative concepts and projects.

So, time, especially these days, things just take a really long time. You just have to settle down and be comfortable with that. The one about temperature, I really like. I’m constantly checking people’s temperature, not their physical temperature, but are they getting a little heated over there in that corner? Has this one gone completely cold? I better bump the heat up on that to get a little sizzle. And I better turn down the temperature over here. 

I’m thinking about these different groups or single people who in the life cycle of a creative project, are not necessarily all gonna be bubbling along at the same temperature all the time.

And then of course that big one, love. If you love the people you are working with, it fulfills really important functions. It keeps you alert to the things coming out of your mouth, so that you speak with sincerity, kindly. It means that you really are careful of the things that you’re saying and that’s important because what comes out of your mouth affects the quality of communication that’s going to go on between you and that person, between that person and other people, it just affects the whole culture of what’s going on in a collaborative environment. It makes them feel safe. It helps to ignite the creative spirit. So time, temperature and love, cooking creative projects, pretty much the same.

[00:35:30] Maya Haviland: Thanks to Johanna de Ruyter and Tirrania Suhood, whose insights shaped this episode. 

Collaboratory is written, edited, and produced by me, Maya Haviland with production and editorial assistance from Nicole Deen. Audio engineering by Nick McCorriston. Music made, especially for us by Seprock and additional research and production support by Nicole O’Dowd. 

Collaboratory is produced on the lands of the Ngunnawal, Ngambri and Ngunawal people. We pay our respects and ongoing gratitude to the custodians past, present, and future of the lands on which we work and of the knowledges from which we learn. 

Collaboratory is a production of the Scaffolding, Cultural Co-creativity project, hosted by the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies in the College of Arts and Social Sciences at the Australian National University. Funding is generously provided by the Australian National University Translational Fellowship Scheme.