While there are key elements Global Partners in Care asks you to accomplish in the partnership, success is often determined by the strength of the relationships between participating programs. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you take time to get to know your partner first, and focus on cultivating relationships, before engaging in other activities. Focusing on fostering positive relationships between partner organizations will increase the chances that your efforts will be successful and productive.
Here are some tips for cultivating and enhancing relationships with your partner:
Start by “being,” not “doing.” While there is much to do in a partnership to advance hospice and palliative care, the first step is to take the time to build trusting relationships. Begin by just listening, getting to know your partner organization, fostering acceptance and respect, and genuinely learning from one another. “Doing” will be more effective once this foundation has been established.
- Establish regular communication with your partner as early as possible. With your partner, determine the best means of communication for representatives between both organizations. If your partner organization has regular access to the Internet, using Skype, email, and social media (i.e., Facebook) can greatly facilitate communication. The Internet helps mitigate time zone differences; Facebook offers the added bonus that activity on your organizational pages helps engage and inform your communities and supporters.
We suggest that partners check in with each other more frequently at the beginning of the relationship, then establish regular communication (i.e., monthly, or at least quarterly) to maintain your relationship.
If access to the Internet is not available, use the best communication method available to your partner.
- Telephone: Cell phone service can be more reliable than Internet service in some countries. If your partner organization’s staff representative has a cell phone that accepts international calls, schedule phone conversations on a regular basis.
- Mail: Some partnerships find that using the mail is a great way to share information, pictures, and small gifts. The United States Postal Service has “flat rate” envelopes and boxes that provide a cost-effective way to send up to 20 pounds of materials to your partner organization. The feasibility of using the postal services varies by country, however. In some regions, packages and letters are likely to be stolen, making the mail a less reliable method for communicating with your partner.
Intermediary services: Some partnerships have identified a friend, relative, and/or colleague of a staff member at the international partner who has Internet access. These individuals are often willing to act as a “courier” for communications between partners.
Learn about the culture, linguistics, history and customs of your partner’s country. Cultural competency, diversity awareness, and empathetic respect are at the heart of interdisciplinary hospice care — and of successful partnerships. The following are important issues to keep in mind when communicating with your partner:
- Engage in active listening and keep linguistic differences in mind. Cultural differences often translate into communication differences (i.e., style, substance, and/or meaning). Be aware that cultures vary in how people address an issue; clarify with your international partner what you think you hear. Even if the staff from your partner organization speak English, communication issues may arise from differences in meaning, idioms, and/or slang.
- Get to know the history of your partner’s country and region. It is important for your team to know the background in which services are being provided. Stay up-to-date on the news from your partner’s country and region. Helpful resources include ehospice for the country and systems like Google alerts.
- As you get to know your partner, also ask about customs and taboos. Here are several resources on cultural competency that may help facilitate your work:
Include your stakeholders. When possible include your staff, leadership, and community members in your communications and other partnership activities. This will help generate more support and excitement for your partnership and subsequent activities.
- Take time to enjoy your new (or established) relationship. Let the process of developing your relationship unfold and don’t become so project-driven that you lose sight of why you came together in the first place! The friendships formed through your partnership can create a strong and mutual bond.
If you have any questions, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org.