The one thing I think most people can agree on is collaboration is hard. Very few people know how to do it successfully. We have to learn, through conscious reflection, how we can work with others. There are a number of things that can provide obstacles when we are trying to work in collaboration. Here is a list of ways to understand others in order to become more adept at collaborating with others and making the most of everyone’s talents.
One of the easiest ways to think about others mistakes or “silly” ideas is to dismiss them as lazy, stupid, evil or any other type of judgemental thought. This way of thinking comes so easily. It is a self righteous thought pattern that enhances you as a better, more intelligent and considered person. They simply cannot compete. This is a hugely destructive way of being when dealing in a collaborative group. You must stay humble. We should keep in mind all the mistakes we have made and all the times we have maybe “got it wrong.” We are all simply human and at time things don’t go how we hoped. To shed ourselves of any self righteousness we must look inside ourselves, examine our history. Through the self analysis you can identify patterns of behaviour that you can work on and improve. It is only by staying humble and self aware that we will be better people to be around when collaborating. More understanding, more encouraging and more accepting.
People are almost always just scared
It can be very easy to label someone as bad or evil whenever we experience conflict with them. This easy excuse gives us a simple and satisfying reason for someone’s behaviour. It reinforces our idea that the world is just full of idiots. However, the reality is much different. People are rarely simply bad. They are more often than not simply scared. Something in the situation they are in is stirring up feelings which are making them anxious and this leads them to unhelpful decisions and patterns of behaviour. So often we believe the response to someone raising their voice is to do the same back to them. When in fact we should approach the situation in a calm and compassionate fashion. We must move beyond the superficial behaviour to the frightened individual within. We should strive to be tolerant of people’s fears and anxieties. Offering them compassion and understanding whenever they raise their head. For we too suffer what others may deem to be “irrational” ideas that will get us overly emotional. It is part of the human condition and as such should be treated with that in mind.
The weaknesses of strengths
Another thought many of us are often guilty of having or even expressing is focusing on an individual’s weaknesses. We may declare that a colleagues time keeping is a disgrace or why is my partner so defensive? So often we focus on those weaknesses and forget about all the strengths they bring to the table. Circling the faults like this has a superficial self-righteous appeal, but it doesn’t begin to address the real issue. There is one giant alternative, a theory called the Weaknesses of Strengths (WoS for short).
“The theory goes like this: every strength that an individual has necessarily brings with it a weakness of which it is an inherent part. It is impossible to have strengths without weaknesses. Though our minds tend to hive off the strengths and see these as essential, while deeming the weaknesses as a freakish add-on, in truth, the weaknesses are part and parcel of the strengths. We have the wrong picture of what a virtue is; there is no such thing in isolation, it will always be a virtue-vice. So the virtue of thoroughness is always going to bring with, in other contexts, the problem of pedantry; creative brilliance is going to be inseparable from logistical unreliability; people who are fantastic leaders at work are likely to be seriously difficult around domestic chores.”
Taking this idea on board helps remind us that in times when we are focusing on someone’s weaknesses, what strength are they the shadow for? No one can only have virtues. With virtues come vices. That is why we have teams to make up for other people’s vices.
Use this knowledge to never lose sight of someone’s strengths even when their weaknesses are so painfully apparent.
Use these rules to help you work closer with other people and understand them. By doing this you will be able to work closer with them and produce more collaborative pieces of work by being patient, understanding and open to their weaknesses.