Collaboration (In)Compatibility: Keeping an Open Mind While Sticking to Your Guns
Dealing with non-like-minded people can be a challenge, especially when working on a big project that involves collaborating with coworkers. We usually don’t get to choose the people we work with, so it’s important to keep an open mind and remember to compromise whenever possible.
For a project to be successful, you must speak up, be honest, share your ideas, and know when to be stubborn. Collaboration is all about communicating effectively, so make it known when things aren’t working, but be open to the ideas of others. Always stay positive, and remember to set goals and responsibilities at the beginning.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
You can’t share your ideas if you don’t speak up. One of the keys to success in collaborating is communication and giving input. This can be hard to do if you’re working with a group of non-like-minded people, but your ideas can give a fresh perspective, especially if a project is headed in the wrong direction.
Be a part of the group as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to share your ideas, even if you know others don’t agree with you.
Back it Up with Experience
If you’re finding it hard for your coworkers to accept your ideas and include your input, know when to be stubborn and get your point across. If you have a lot of experience in a certain area, back it up with examples of how the strategy worked well for you in the past. Be stubborn if you know you have a good idea, but don’t be forceful or condescending.
You want to have your coworkers on your side, so even if you know your idea may work well, give everyone a chance to share and be involved in the process. Take the best ideas and discuss them again — your coworkers may be more willing to give it a try once you’ve given everyone a chance to share. This also gives the team an opportunity to reflect and digest everything that was discussed, and is a good time to reaffirm the goals of the project.
Know Your Role
It’s a good idea to delegate team member responsibilities right from the beginning, so everyone knows their roles. In addition, make sure the goals of the project have been established and everyone is on the same page.
Help out your coworkers whenever possible. If you finish your share of the work early, take the initiative to seek out other responsibilities or help team members who have fallen behind.
Keep it Respectful
There is nothing worse than working with coworkers who have no respect or consideration for others. Be an example, and always respect the ideas of your team members, even if you disagree with them. Discuss alternatives in a respectful way, and be sure to include input from other coworkers who may feel the same as you. Don’t point fingers and play the blame game. Compromise whenever possible.
If someone is being disrespectful or condescending, make it known immediately that the behavior will not be tolerated, and will only hurt productivity and collaboration. If you still have a problem with someone in the group, seek intervention from management or a senior staff member. Never stoop to their level, as this will only make the situation worse.
Don’t Just Give Up
If you’ve been open to communication, let everyone share their ideas, and still can’t get your point across, don’t give up. Reiterate your idea, clarify it if team members don’t understand, and back it up with real-world examples if it’s something that has worked well in the past. If no one is on your side, reassess the situation and be open to compromise. However, if you’re on a tight deadline, you may not have the time to keep playing defense — so accept that sometimes, you may have to move on regardless.
Brian Flax is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C. area. He is experienced in a variety of topics including business, finance, and wireless credit card machines. Follow Brian on Twitter and LinkedIn.