3 Tips For Successful Collaboration
Negotiation is a natural, ever-present part of life. Being back in a classroom – even a virtual one – means you are navigating situations with different people every day. A little bit of preparation goes a long way, so if you bear the following suggestions in mind, you will increase your chances of encountering less friction as you work with others. An important starting point is knowing when to have a conversation. Be mindful of those around you, and if you’re collaborating with a team, be sure to bring up new topics or suggestions within a private team setting. Keeping tone and body language neutral are important parts of maintaining a synergistic space.
When someone shares an idea with you, repeat the idea in your own phrasing to enhance understanding. This ensures you fully understand their thought and also lets them know you are actively listening. In your responses lead with the positive. First, share what parts of their idea you agree with and why. Then share any differences you have that came up and some ideas of how you can meet in the middle. When you hit areas of friction, don’t interrupt or negate their feelings. Allow each person to share their thoughts on the situation and when everyone has had a chance to speak refocus on finding a way forward.
1. Assume The Best Intentions
Usually, assumptions can be problematic, but this is the exception to the rule. Confirmation bias is an example of how we, as humans, process data inefficiently. You are likely to find what you are expecting. Beginning a conversation expecting a positive interaction means that you are far more likely to have a good experience. If you assume the best of folks, you will have an entirely different tone and energy and by setting the tone of a positive, relaxed conversation you are working hard to ensure that when disagreements occur, they can happen respectfully. Expect kindness and collaboration to ensure the best outcome!
2. Know When To Take A Break
If you notice that your team has been bogged down by more resistance than collaboration, take it as a signal to have a break! Grab a snack, go for a walk outside, and come back to the conversation to try again. Taking a break can feel counterproductive, but if you’re having conflict, taking a few minutes to stretch and think alone can be the perfect way to come up with fresh ideas or to find a new compromise. You can return with fresh space to listen and collaborate effectively. Often solutions to a problem will not present themselves when you’re wracking your brain trying to think of new ideas. This is why many people report that great ideas come to them in the shower. While your body is on auto-pilot, your brain is free to tumble the issue around and look at it from new angles.
3. Remember The Common Goal
Any group or team project has a common goal. Get familiar with that goal and if things aren’t going as smoothly as imagined, refocus on that shared goal & find a way to work toward it. Talk about that goal regularly, to help keep it fresh in mind for each contributor. Chances are that you were matched with your teammate(s) for specific reasons. You all bring important and valuable skills to the table; by integrating the work and ideas of talented but different individuals, the result is sure to be stronger than any work done by one individual alone. Let the individual strengths of the team push everyone to reach new heights!
Negotiating projects and situations often feels difficult, but it does not have to be! Begin each team project by reminding yourself to make good assumptions about your fellow contributors. It goes back to the golden rule of treating others how you wish to be treated. When conflict arises and a solution isn’t forthcoming, encourage the whole team to take a break. Set a specific amount of time, and come back ready to bring new resilience to the conversation. Lastly, always remember that you are a TEAM. It is in everyone’s best interest to be open-minded and collaborative when working on a group project. By focusing on mindset, and going in with the goal of coming up with something brilliant together the potential for a positive outcome is endless.