Home of Articles on Co-Equal/Collegial Interactive Communication, Relationships, Team Building and Governance

Additional articles on Co-equal Collegial Interactive Communication, Relationships and Team Building are found below, just scroll down to read.

Chette Nichols Jr and his team are available for speaking engagements.  Please contact us for availability at 434-929-0128


Garbage In, Garbage Out

Today’s Entertainment Industry has portrayed every known avenue of employment out there.  One of it’s Biggest drama presentations is the Medical Industry followed by Law Enforcement, Law Firms, then Education Facilities.  Not wanting to quote polls but these industries make up the biggest market in the entertainment industry, which for some reason does not like to portray its own industry.  Go figure.

The effect of these drama shows, whether they be day time soap and evening series, affect the minds of people to believe that these dramas represent real life, but that is far from the truth.  These programs are written to attract viewers and get a viewer responses as well as to get viewers to buy products.  The worst thing is most people believe that in the portrayal of these industries this is how people act in real life.  As a matter of opinion I believe that Television and Movies have had a negative effect on our communication skills and our ability to maintain open relationships.

Life is not a Drama Program.  I have a teaching that basically says, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.  What you put into your mind is what you are going to get out of it.  If your life is filled with these false Entertainment Industry portrayals of reality you will begin to act them out in real life.  The best thing to do is to find other avenues during your time off than watching TV.  I am not saying you should not entertain your self a little entertainment is essential and necessary but an over load will produce negative affects in your life.

The key to maintaining real and truthful communication is to be putting into your life real and truthful entertainments.  Hobbies are far better for your mentality than the TV.  Hobby projects help you to stimulate and focus mental energy in a positive way.  This activity will in fact help both your mental and physical health.  The more challenging the stimuli the more you will exercise your mental capacities.

tie 2

I created this tie closet from an old aluminum siding sales case.

Here are a few suggestions for projects to replace your TV watching with.

Car or motorbike restoration, restoring antique furniture or farm equipment, painting scenery or portraits, inventing devices, making or repairing lamps.  Knitting, cross stitching or quilting, Cooking new and exotic dishes, or designing clothing.  Other activities that require some time is putting together and maintaining a fresh or salt water fish tank, terrariums or exotic reptile environments.

As long as the hobby requires time and participation other than reading and watching (not saying these are bad) but stimuli that requires one to think clearly and problem solve is what keeps us sharp and emotionally alert.  If you are one who likes to read then may I suggest that you read biographies and auto-biographies, the Bible, World History, or literature on a hobby you are not familiar with so you can learn.  These types of literature will give you mental stimuli that teaches and focuses your mind on communication skills used in these books. From them you learn new words, and forms of communication.  And it helps to improve your reading and comprehension in turn this helps you to better learn to communicate and participate in life.

Life is not a TV drama or some sort of scripted reality the entertainment industry has developed to lure the unsuspecting to watch their program.  Life is real and you must put reality into your heart and mind if you want reality out of it.  To many people today are filling their minds with non-reality and then taking that out into the streets and acting that out in society, and as such is it no wonder that the world we live in is more violent, sexually deviant and lawless.

Co-equal Communication is something that comes out by what you put into your heart and mind.  Entertain yourself with those things that stimulate the mind and heart to clear and truthful thinking.  And you will find that your communication skills will improve in line with that which you put into your heart and mind.

Good Stuff In, Good Stuff Out!

One Key to Interactive Team Harmony is Compliment

That’s right.  Each member of the team should not only help each player know their weakness but more importantly they should take time to compliment them on their job done correctly.  Everyone needs to be esteemed and uplifted and there is no better way than to remind them of a job well done.

As humans we go through ups and downs.  And nothing helps keep a person in an up beat mood than a nice and timely compliment.  A reminder at the end of a busy day that they did a great job will often quell the physical as well as mental stress that had accumulated.

Remember if you criticize a persons work constantly you are effectively bringing them down, though it is sometimes necessary to correct a person, constant criticism can be dangerous to team harmony, just as much as gossip.  So if you are a team leader try and compliment as well.   This will reassure your team mate you are there for them and that you recognize their positive points as well.  You would be surprised how a well timed and placed compliment will up lift a tired team mate.  Practice finding one thing to compliment a team mate with at least once a week, everyday is better but it takes more effort to find something different to compliment them on.

Take time to Compliment each other and the team harmony and atmosphere will be more joyful and light, and makes it a team that not only works well together but a team that works.

Does A Team Members Attitude Affect the Harmony and Quality of Service?

All of us have experience the atmosphere of working with someone who has a daily negative outlook on their job and sometimes on life in general.  We have seen where the atmosphere went from one of harmony to disharmony in a matter of seconds because of an negative attitude of one of the team members.

Working in the Food Service Industry many years ago, I worked in a busy kitchen for a hotel in a resort city in Hawaii. It was one of the high lights of my young life at that time.  But there was one individual that always came in with a negative attitude.  It was always, “the waves sucked today”, or “this job sucks”.  I always thought if it is so bad why come to work at all.  In those days no one spoke their minds or communicated with each other we just did our job.  But his attitude did affect the harmony and Attitudes of all but more importantly it affected the quality of the final product, the dish.

When ever this man was presence I noticed that the return rate on plates was higher across the board which indicated that his attitude affected everyone not just himself.  He may have been part of a team but he was not a team player.  His attitude caused great harm on the rest of the team and to our competence as line chefs.  It may not seem like much but like the old adage says, “one spoiled apple spoils the whole bunch”.  It doesn’t matter what field you are in a negative attitude of one person can truly affect all he or she comes in contact with.  This mans choice of negative attitude communicated to the rest of the team negativeness that brought everybody down, and it in turn resulted in the lower quality of service.

You can give instruction on teamwork, you can give instruction on positive attitude but what it all comes down too is a choice.  That’s right it is our choice to be up beat and positive and approach our jobs with a positive attitude or to approach them with an opposite attitude.  Whether it be positive or negative always remember our attitude will affect the atmosphere and harmony of the team we are on.

We must ask ourselves, “Am I part of promoting a positive team with a positive attitude?

And if so how can I make it better?

Even positive teams can improve, if not in the area of harmony or atmosphere it can always improve in quality and competency of team members.  So here is where it comes down to individual team members, being able to see and evaluate themselves with honest scales of judgement, and not conflates egotistical views of magnificence of ones skills and attitude.  Honest appraisal or reflection is needed if anyone is going to improve on their skill set no matter the field they are in.  Part of co-equal team work will require this from time to time.  But lying to ones self will not improve attitude or skills.

No one is perfect, but good team morale will have a positive affect on the over all performance and quality of any product no matter what field or industry they are in.  If one team member comes in moaning and groaning and having mini fits and emotional out breaks it will affect the overall output of quality of service and product of everyone around them.

The choice starts with us as individuals to be positive no matter how the waves of life are.  We choose to either be positive or negative.  Eventually the choice gets easier and easier no matter which direction you choose.  Choose the positive and productive direction and attitude and not only will you perform better but you will feel better physically and mentally.

Yes, even one team members attitude will affect the whole teams attitude and quality of service.  The question is, is it affecting it positively or negatively?  We should all strive for a positive team mentality and attitude, so that our product will be one of quality, representing our abilities and competency as a team.

Make the right choice, choose to be a positive team player one looking to improve quality and generate a positive atmosphere of harmony.  Choose to have a positive attitude on your work and life.  Our Attitude can make our place of work either a great place to work or the worst place to work, in the end the choice is ours.

Keys To An Effective Team

It is the assumption that if people work well together that they are a good team. But nothing could be further from the truth.  Teamwork is not just working together but working for the benefit of the team.

I worked a job assembling roofing trusses there were 10 people on the assembly line.  But everyone had an alpha dog mentality, meaning each saw themselves as the leader.  They were able to work with others but unable to communicate or take orders.  When something went wrong it was always the other persons fault.

There was a prevailing attitude that they were the best and the others were inferior.  There was no true respect for one another and often there was a lot of back biting and gossip.  Though we were all working together there was no real teamwork let alone a real team.  People on the assembly line were to busy looking to see if anyone else was making mistakes and it interfered with their ability to do their own job.  One of the other problems it created was intimidation to where others were afraid when ever this person was around, that they were not doing it right.  It caused more rejected trusses and resulted in lower quality, many mistakes and lost time and revenue.

Here are keys to a successful team

1) Respect

Each person respects the other no matter what their position, length of time on the team, age, education or experience.  Respect is something that needs to be given even if you don’t like one of the other people on your team.  BTW, not liking a person on you team makes you a non-team player.

2) Professionalism

You are all one team so professionalism is required no matter what field your team is in.  Professionalism is more geared toward the customer than each other but still professionalism is needed amongst team members too.  This includes going beyond your duties so the customer is satisfied.

3) Trust

If you can’t trust a team member then there is no real team.  Trust is given until it is lost and once lost takes extra effort on the part of the one who violated it to mend it and earn it back.  Trusting a team member to have your back in any situation is necessary but once that trust is gone or if it is lacking then the team is dysfunctional and hence no longer a team.

4) Communication

This is an essential key and the bases on the above three takes effort to communicate truthfully, clearly, freely and without fear of retaliation or retribution such as gossip or backbiting.   Generally if the latter begins it is because someone didn’t like the communication they received.  Communication takes practice and it takes the ability to not interpret it beyond what is said.

As mentioned before listening is an important fact in communication.  But it is a two way street.  Remember, if you are not willing to listen then you can’t expect the one receiving your communication to listen?

Gossip to other members of the team is not communication it is destruction of the team and creates an atmosphere of distrust and animosity.  Any team member who is active in this needs to reevaluate  their reason for being on the team and if they cannot stop then for the benefit of the team they should resign.  Read “Gossip is not Co-equal Communication” for more info on gossip.

Communication is 92% body language and intonation.  If you carry incorrect body language and intonation of speech you will offend and even hurt your customer and or team member.  Always remain upbeat and smile with your words.  This is not smiling while you speak, this is placing intonation on your words in a way they are smiling even when your face is not.  This is great for phone etiquette when a person has no body language to go by in interpreting your words.

4) Quality

As a team seek to do your job with the best quality of attitude and abilities you have.  This does not mean that mistakes wont be made but when the team is working in a quality mode many mistakes are caught before they reach the customer.  Quality is produced when all the above keys are in place and working.

Being a fourth lineman on a team that was making trusses, I got in the habit to have some plates that were used in the second and third lineman’s positions so if they missed a plate (which occasionally happened) I would put it in place as I did my own work on the truss before it went into the press.  This teamwork paid off and created a quality product.  It was not my job to do their work but If they got overwhelmed I could help out and in the end we as a team created a quality product.

No matter what occupation you are in whether office, sales or labor these teamwork keys are beneficial and necessary for the success of any and every endeavor.  If you have these qualities in your team then you have the signs of a great team.

Co-Equal/Collegial Interactive Communicative Teams Requires Structure

A team is a number of persons associated together in any work or activity.  A baseball team functions as a unit and in this unit there is structure.  There is a captain and positions that each player holds and participates.  When out on the field if one person gets out of place, one of the other players would step in to fulfill the role of another all for the benefit of the success of the team.  For example if a baseman steps away from his base to get the ball another player steps up on the base to cover that position which often results in an out.

I had a job where the owner of the business had what is known as a Hierarchal leadership structure, that is everything had to pass through him for his approval.  Many people in his employ were afraid to make decisions on their own without his approval .  He decided to take his wife and go on a one week vacation without leaving contact info in case of a business emergency.  While on vacation a piece of machinery broke that was vital to the smooth operation of his business.  The manager contacted me after being informed of the malfunctioning machine.  Seeing the owner was not there and out of contact, I being the next in the positional structure of the company took the lead.  I called the manufacturer who had the replacement part but could not deliver it because it was a weekend that he had planned to visit family, on top of that it was in the next State.  I asked where he would be early the next morning in his travels.  He informed me he was traveling near the State line and at about a certain time should be in a particular city and if I could meet him at a certain time and place I could get the part.

The next morning very early, I took a company vehicle and drove three hours to meet the man in another state, picked up the part and returned.  Installed the part and we were back in business by 11 am that very morning.  When the owner returned from his vacation he asked how things went.  I explained the situation and awaited his response.  I was not sure if my actions were the correct course of action so I was expecting a little rebuke.  However his reply was, “Sounds like you did the right thing.”

Being part of a co-equal or collegial team means we are willing to take the responsibility to make difficult decisions when the leadership structure has been temporary disrupted from its normal processes or function.  And to do so without fear that the wrong course is taken.  Taking responsibility if need be even if that person is on the team at the moment can also take place because sometimes things are over looked by others when they are focused on their particular duties.  This is known as co-equal interactive teamwork responsibility.

Another example can be found in the traditional family structure.  The team consists of a father (leader, team member) and a mother (co-leader, team member) and the children (team members), who by division of age function with certain levels of responsibilities.  Being a good leader I have communicated clearly each members responsibility and laid out contingencies for occurrences that should be followed in absence of leadership structure within the team.  Now let’s say a neighbor comes to borrow my power saw but I am not home  So he asks my wife if I can borrow the power saw for a few days but knowing I am particular with my power tools her next step is to call me and ask if it is alright.  This is a structure of responsibility that has been laid out by leadership.

Now let’s say that same neighbor comes and I nor my wife are home and my eldest is now left to make a decision.  He asks to borrow the power tool but there is no way to contact me to ask for my permission to lend it out.  The contingency plan is slightly different with an under aged or inexperienced person than it was with my co-leader.  So my eldest knows that I cannot be contacted and remembers the plan and informs the neighbor that she cannot lend it out without permission from me and apologizes for the inconvenience.  Now, I know my neighbor is disappointed but my eldest does not have the responsibility to lend out my power tools so she followed her instruction to the letter and did not lend it out.

But let’s say on the other hand he came to borrow a ladder and explained to my eldest that they are playing basketball and he needed it to dislodge the basketball from behind the backstop on their garage.  She knows the process but given the situation that she cannot contact me.  So she decides to make a decision and takes responsibility then loans the ladder out so they can dislodge the basketball and get on with their game.  My response when I get home is not negative because she was able to discern the difference between and immediate need and a need that could wait for a more official response.  Plus she knows the difference in value and need of a power tool for a longer period of time verses a ladder that is needed for just a few moments.

So what is the point in all this.  Both systems of leadership, whether it is Hierarchal or Co-Equal/Collegial, need to have structure for designated responsibilities or there will be chaos and nothing would get done in the team, the business, or the family.  which could quite possibly cause loss.

While both leadership styles have structure, the Hierarchal type is oppressive and gives no leeway for temporary internal change.  The Hierarchal type expects each person down a chain of command to follow certain protocol and even if there is some form of importance needed for immediate response no one can deviate from the structure without the leadership’s decision.  This works well in military warfare but not well in businesses and teamwork.  If this type of ridged structure is followed in a business it cost time and in the end could cost money, a client and in some cases lives.

In the Co-Equal/Collegial Leadership type of structure, everyone knows their place and responsibility and if there is a leadership structure breakdown or the leadership has by accident overlooked something, one of those in the lower structure take the initiative and responsibility to make a decision that quiet often will save time, money, clients and possibly a life or lives.  This is interactive Co-Equal teamwork at its best, and in the end creates a responsible communicating structure that relates well within the team which leads to success and profit and minimizes loss.

Structure is needed in either style of leadership but in Co-Equal Interactive structure there is less oppression and restriction which in turn leads to individual freedom to act when there is an immediate breakdown within that structure.  Structure is required in a Co-Equal interactive Teams but not always needed to benefit the team.  Yes mistakes can still take place but with the Co-equal/Collegial style teamwork there are less mistakes and more benefits.

Co -equal Interactive Communication and Relationships Go Hand in Hand

Developing relationships is a difficult thing for many people even though they have many friends and acquaintances.  I knew a young woman who was very beautiful and in addition she was highly intelligent.  She was always surrounded by people and it seemed everyone wanted to be her friend.  From the casual observance you would think she had great relationships with people, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

As she left school and went into the public sector many of her friends moved away or got married.  She however was still single and struggling with her life.  She eventually gave in to the desire of self destruction and attempted suicide.  Here you had what seemed on the outside to be a person who had lots of friends and relationships but when the facade was rolled away her life was quite the opposite.

From her own interview she admitted that many of those who befriended her were the ones who did most of the communicating and were more self motivated than were truly interested in her as a person.  Many used her beauty as a way to meet men that were naturally attracted to her.  And when they had all gone on she was alone.  She had been alone for many years but you couldn’t tell it from the outside.  Even her own parents were surprised to learn of her loneliness.

What came from this observation is the basis of why co-equal interactive communication will lead to co-equal relationships that are lasting and strong.  When there is not co-equal communication one party is always left out of the communicative side of a relationship and in short is not truly part of the relationship at all.  I learned this lesson myself personally only after the loss of a very deep relationship in my own life.  I looked back and could see there was no real communication let alone co-equal communication.  Since those days I have learned to develop communication and relationships that are stronger and long lasting.

Co-equal communication and relationship go hand in hand.  If one part of communication is lacking or is lopsided there truly is no real relationship.  It will be a type of hierarchal relationship where one rules over the other by some instrument, that instrument could be sex, money, personal security or any other thing that one could use over another, it results in manipulation and oppression.  It always gives the upper hand of control to one person in the relationship and will always result in a loss of that relationship over time.

This is why co-equal communication is so crucial to personal relationships.  It is what is missing in  the common family teaching, it is something that should be learned from the family unit from birth.  Unfortunately over the last 100 plus years we have seen a drastic drop in communication within the family unit.  This drop has led to many people relying upon their public school teachers to teach relationships and communication.  The problem is, as evident by the attitude of many college students today, the professor or teacher is right and all others are wrong.  What the child learns in school is the teacher is the ruler and they are the naive.  Schools teach hierarchal leadership and relationships.  While professing to teach students to be more open and tolerant they are teaching them to be more self centered and closed off.

This over the last fifty years is now coming to light as a generation of people who know not where they are going and are willing to give up their rights and be ruled over by a centralized government.  Again we are returning to and keep with the traditional hierarchal leadership because that is what they learned from birth and their parents learned and theirs before them.  This is the answer as to why there is an up swing in suicides, mass murders and total lack of real self respect and respect for others.  You see it is all do to the lack of co-equal communication skills that used to be taught quiet naturally in the family unit being replaced with the unnatural hierarchal communicative relationship that is inherently taught in public schools.

How do we break this cycle of self destruction and disrespect caused by hierarchal communicative relationships?

We need to learn and adapt communication skills that involve others equally, must teach our children this type of communication in the home via the parental relationship.  We must learn that “no man is an island” and exist apart from all other men.  We must learn that open interactive communication without fear of reprisal and retribution is the only true way to develop deep and meaningful relationships with spouses, children, friends and coworkers.

And it all starts with you.

Are you willing to put yourself in a position that is equal with others?

Or are you just wanting to press on in the hierarchal skills you learned by example from every venue in your life?

Cut off the venues of wrong learning (i.e. TV, School, etc. . . ), redevelop communications skills with family and friends, learn to develop relationships that work two way instead of self centered or self motivated relationships that benefit only you.  Learn to be open and willing to be hurt so you may grow in understanding,  this will lead you to longer lasting relationships and friendships that in turn will make you a leader that cares and loves all around them. And always remembers that co-equal communication and relationships go hand in hand, one cannot work without the other.

Co-equal Interactive Relationships Are Based on Respect and Trust, Even If You Don’t Know the Person

I initially give all men and women I meet respect and trust.  It may be my nature or makeup but one thing is for sure all people deserve respect.  Even if it is a casual encounter you and I should always show them respect.  I figure that every encounter is a chance to meet someone who may be very influential in your life even in a small way.  Respect and trust go a long way in starting meaningful relationships with others, and the resepct your show others is an indicator of the respect you have for yourself.

I remember an encounter at a thrift store in California once.  It was one of the hardest encounters I had ever had and it took every ounce of self control to endure the abuse that had been unwarrantably hurled at me.

I was looking at some books on a book shelf when a man approached from behind.  Noticing I was somewhat blocking his view I said, “I am Sorry” as I turned my head to verify I was indeed in the mans way.  His immediate reply was, “You sure are”.  I received the response with raised blood from this casual personal attack, it was uncalled for and certainly disrespectful to a complete stranger.  My blood was rising, as my flesh just wanted to pound the guy, yet the Spirit of God in me kept me calm.  After a few minutes I was cool again but what I learned from that experience was not at all good if I was to continue on in any casual correspondence with strangers.

I ask myself should I ever respond politely if I think I may be hindering someone’s view or hindering their passage in a small isle like that?

Should we, who respect people as individuals, ever show politeness and respect openly before we get to know a person?

Well I think the answer is clear.  We should respect and trust people openly no matter how we have been treated in the past by strangers.  We could be taken advantage of and we could be insulted but we will learn how to discern who is worthy of continued respect and trust after such events.

Dealing with strangers is one of the things all of us go through on almost a daily basis.  And despite the small number of people who act like the one I mentioned above, most people deserve respect and trust even if limited to a low level of it.  Even if they are hard and course they are still a person God has made and endowed with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And anyone God has made and put in your presence should be treated with respect for they are made in the semblance of God himself.  And you will never know how that one chance encounter will affect a persons life.

I like to smile at people as I walk through stores and streets.  I like to make eye contact and even if given a chance to say hello as we pass.  We would never know how that little respect will affect a persons life.  I read a story recently about a man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.  He left a note and it read loosely, “I am walking to the bridge to jump off but if one persons smiles at me I will not jump off the bridge.”  Apparently not one person smiled at him because they fished his body from the cold waters of the bay.

Like I always say co-equal interactive relationships start with respect to others.  Even if that respect is shown in a passing smile or kind word, they deserve it because they are Gods creation.  And you never know how that smile or kind word will affect their life or save it.  And you never know if that chance encounter may develop into a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.  So show respect and trust towards each other even if they are strangers it never hurts to be nice, and in doing so you develop a stronger self respect as well.