Collaboration Kills (me)

I’m coming to realize how much it pains me to collaborate at work. It just kills the “creative ride” I’m on. :(

[Note: I’m VERY self-conscious about my writing. This is something I’d like to work on. This post in itself is an exercise to improve! I’ve written many posts that I’ve trashed simply because I was embarrassed about my writing.]

This week, I’m tasked to write a piece about the company. My coworkers tend to get too technical with their write-ups. They delve too deep into the technology and the spirit of what we want to get across is missed. They realize this and is why I was asked to write the piece.

My first draft came out pretty well. (I actually liked it! I usually don’t like what I write.) My coworkers thought it was decent, too. After some suggestions for the next draft, I was amped to continue to work on it and hammer out a good piece! I started immediately.

A coworker then decided to “help me out.” I know he means well, but his changes seemed to detract from the spirit of the piece. It became too wordy; too technical. I thanked him and tried to mesh our work together. After several hours of trying to make it work, I said to him, “Let’s just submit the document with your changes.” I even explained to him that I was just having difficulty “making it all come together.”

I felt defeated. :(

We were to track changes (we’re using Microsoft Word) and circulate the document. As I began editing, I was undoing a lot of his work. If you’ve ever tracked changes in a Word doc, edited parts turn red and blue, and words are stricken through… The page began to look like the freaking American flag! o_O

There were a few things that bothered me:

  1. I felt bad that I was undoing a lot of his work and felt uncomfortable telling him so.
  2. I felt that my changes being tracked was a look into my thought process, and though I’m ok explaining it, I didn’t like that it was “tracked” for everyone to see.
  3. Because the changes were tracked, what if I was called out on something I did “wrong?” What if some of my coworker’s writing I undid was actually brilliant? “Hey, why did you cross that part out? I think it sounds great! Put it back in!”

The last thing bothered me so much. I’m sure this isn’t a healthy way to deal with it. Maybe I’m more self-conscious about being wrong than not being able to be as creative as I want? Either way, I couldn’t reconcile the changes with the vision I had and I was shooting for. It was all-or-nothing and I felt I relinquished my work. My creative ride was killed. :(

Maybe I need to remind myself that this was a business piece and I don’t have full say in what words stay?

At any rate, this is a common challenge I have here at work. I’m asked to provide creativity. I can work with suggestions, but when certain things are imposed, I feel like I’ve lost control and it’s easier to give it up. True, I could argue, but… well… That’s another challenge I struggle with. ;)