Reset Your Collaboration and Communication Tendencies
Our tendencies and preferences around collaboration and communication are particularly important to consider. Typically, they are so ingrained in who we are, we may not even be fully aware that they are a tendency.
Written by:Tara A. Collison, Ph.D.
In any workplace, the breadth of our personal preferences shows up in so many ways. For example, if we have the choice, we may present ourselves differently (casual vs. professional), work completely different hours, or make decisions based on very different processes. Our tendencies and preferences around collaboration and communication are particularly important to consider. Typically, they are so ingrained in who we are, we may not even be fully aware that they are a tendency.
Sharing our preferences, having a general discussion about them, and humbly admitting when they can get in our own way are all vital steps to creating meaningful and productive relationships at work, as well as building a network of mutual understanding among your team members. This kind of understanding—of yourself and others—creates an anchor for transparency, connection, and trust.
Understand Your Own Style of Collaboration and Communication
First, we need to understand the difference between collaboration and communication (C&C). It’s subtle, but it’s there. Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create. Communication is the exchange of information. You can communicate without collaborating, but you can never collaborate without communication. At least, not effectively.
Now, think about your preferences—what is your style of C&C? Is it structured or loose? Are you OK with people stopping by your desk with questions regardless of certain cues or soft signals, like wearing earphones or appearing lost in thought? Or would you prefer to set aside predetermined chunks of time for discussion or is your office door always open? Do you need a Google calendar invite to have a conversation?
Another common difference is if someone likes to talk and brainstorm to help guide action, whereas another person might prefer to separate, reflect, and then contribute. This particular dichotomy impacts both communication and collaboration.
While not an exhaustive list of things to consider, answers to questions like these will help you build a firm understanding of how you operate in terms of C&C. If you don’t know or if it varies, other people can’t be expected to know either. The key is to build an understanding of yourself and others that can help you enhance everyone's experience and outcomes.
Understand Your Peers’ Styles of Collaboration and Communication
Do you think there is one “right” way to collaborate and communicate? Or are you open to other peoples’ unique styles of doing so? Truth is, everyone is different. In many ways, the topic of collaboration and communication is like a dance. The question often becomes: who is taking the lead? But then again, the answer may change.
Three Ways to Approach the Topic of Collaboration and Communication
- Decide who is leading the dance. While the lead may change, it’s important to enter the conversation about C&C knowing who has the lead right now. While that doesn’t mean the best way to operate is a “what I say goes” philosophy, it does help to have someone to defer to if everyone’s style is a complete grab-bag of wildcards. If you have to check in frequently, that’s OK, but the clearer you can be about who is leading and when, the better. If you pick a lead that will be inclusive and consider how to involve those people with different styles, you may be more likely to achieve consistency, resulting in fewer check-in’s.
- Have a meaningful dialogue. Ironically, one way to approach the topic of collaboration and communication is to… you guessed it, communicate. You and your team members should have an open discussion about how you prefer to C&C. Once you’re able to head into this with a healthy knowledge of your own style and the style of your team members, you’ll be better prepared. Decide with each other how, when, and why you’d like to be approached throughout the day, and once you’ve been approached, you should have an agreement on how the collaboration process plays out.
- Predictive Index is a great tool to access and address a conversation about C&C. Its behavioral assessments can help you and your team members understand your own preferences, enabling everyone to better express what they need.
It’s hard to know how everyone prefers to C&C if you don’t talk about it. So, if you want to foster a mutual understanding with your team about how to collaborate and communicate, request a personalized demo for Predictive Index and see how it can help you build a high-functioning and aligned organizational culture.
Check back soon for part two on collaboration and communication!