Collaborate More

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    There are a range of effective approaches to resolving conflict in the workplace. But for the best results, you should use one approach–collaboration–much more frequently than the others.


    Collaborate More

    Today I want to discuss what gets me out of bed in the morning, what inspires me to do this work.

    It is this: The beauty and efficacy of collaboration.

    There are, of course, a range of legitimate and potentially effective approaches to resolving conflicts at work.

    You can avoid the situation and have little to do with the other person and the conflict; you can accommodate by giving your counterpart what they want; and you can compete, which involves trying to meet your interests regardless of what your counterpart wants.

    But to create the most value, more often than not you should employ strategies that require that you work with your counterpart, particularly collaboration.

    When you collaborate, you find out about your counterpartā€™s needs and interests, hopes and fears, you share your own, and you work together to come up with the best solution you can to the problems you face.

    Collaborating does not make sense for every conflict; there is a place for avoiding, and accommodating and competing. And it’s not easy to do.

    But regardless of the kind of work you do, you will get more of what you want if your default is to collaborate, to work with your counterpart.

    (Thanks to Thomas and Kilmann for their conflict mode instrument.)

14 responses to Collaborate More

  1. michael katz says:

    Great video Richard! And thanks for the clarification about conflict today.
    – Michael

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      My pleasure, Michael. Thanks for writing!

  2. Jason DelPorto says:

    Thank you Richard! These tips keep me aware and reflective. Can’t wait to see whats next.

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Great to hear, Jason. I’m so glad you found this first post helpful. More to come…

  3. Michael Toebe says:


    Your passion for what you do is evident and I believe your videos are going to reach and touch people. Smart choice to go with the medium.

    What you spoke about today, so critical for people to learn. Accommodation doesn’t resolve conflict. Competing is akin to gas on the fire. And avoidance is ineffective, discouraging and often depressing for people.

    Courage, engagement and creatively collaborating on problem solving will take you further than one might imagine.

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      I’m with you, Michael. And yes, it takes all that you mention–courage, engagement, and creativity–along with other factors (strong communication skills and patience, for example) to collaborate effectively. Thanks for writing.

  4. Kristen Woodward says:

    Thanks Richard for this clip on collaboration.

    As a follow up piece, may be you can talk about barriers to collaboration and how to address/overcome them. In particular, when one party is not interested in collaborating. I see that often in the work place.

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Will do, Kristen. Yes, collaboration requires “two to tango,” but there are many things we can try to get others to engage. First and foremost: try to demonstrate to them that working “with” us will enable our counterpart to best meet their own needs. Thanks for writing…

  5. Harry Manasewich says:

    Great video! So helpful!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks for watching, Harry.

  6. Ben Stich says:

    Congrats on your video blog, Richard! You have so much to offer and I can’t wait to see more. I appreciate that although you accentuated collaboration, as you should, that you also acknowledge that there is a time and place for the other approaches to dealing with conflict. Shows a pragmatic side that is often lost when I read about conflict resolution.

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks for writing, Ben! And yes, collaborating creates the most value for people in conflict, BUT it requires time and energy and skill to do it well. Not every conflict warrants that investment: the issues are not important enough, or time is limited, or the other person won’t engage. The most savvy of us are able to select the best approach for each negotiation.

  7. Matt Smith says:

    Great video Richard. Collaboration is key, especially when working in a creative environment. Just the other day I found myself avoiding a conflict by trying to walk away and simply not deal with it, thinking that the timing was bad to discuss something. It’s challenging to put your emotions to the side sometimes (especially when there’s a disagreement) but seeing it laid out this way will make me better prepared for next time, and I can stop myself and remind myself that collaboration will be more effective. We used to deal with this all the time when playing in a band too, where collaboration is really what makes the whole thing work. Really appreciate the insights here!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks for writing, Matt. I like the way you express this: “collaboration is really what makes the whole thing work.” That is so often the case. And yes, strong emotions make it hard to do, and timing, setting, and getting commitment from your counterparts are all KEY. Clearly, it’s not easy. But as you write, it’s often what makes the “whole thing work!”

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