Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ask an Advisor: How to deal with 'challenging' partners

Ask an Advisor featured question, by Regina D. Langhout

      Ask an Advisor is a feature from the Community Tool Box in which anyone around the world seeking for advice regarding community work, could find a brief and personalized response. For this week’s post, we feature the following question:

QuestionHow do you deal with 'challenging' partners?

AnswerAs you note, working with others can be very challenging. I think different people would have different answers to this. For me, the answer has a lot to do with setting up goals and expectations at the beginning of the partnership. What seems to work for me is to have a conversation at the beginning of a partnership where we each discuss our values, goals, and the values and goals of our institutions (if we are representing them). We talk about where the similarities are and where there might be differences. It's also a good idea to talk about how you will handle conflict when it arises. This puts a lot on the table at the beginning and can lead to some really interesting conversations. It also normalizes conflict by pointing out that you know it will happen at some point. Then, when you are having challenges, you can return to this conversation and talk with your partners about what might be inconsistent with your values, or what might be getting in the way of you meeting your goals. Raise this conversation in a way that is consistent with how you agreed to deal with conflict.

You can also look here for other ideas: Maintaining Partnerships

I hope this helps and good luck with maintaining your partnership!


To submit a question about your community-based work to Ask an Advisor, please visit

1 comment:

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