Strategies for Better Collaboration

10 Ways to Improve Your Ability to Collaborate

Dr. Randy Kamen-Gredinger, Licensed Psychologist and Educator.

Do you believe collaboration is a skill that can be learned? On the surface, we may have fears, but deep down we want to collaborate. Sometimes we don’t know how to go about collaborating with others.

We can remove barriers to collaboration in organizations through strong leadership to unify goals and create reward systems for collaborative performances. But just as important, we need to improve our collaborative relationships that we can control to create a more solid ground for collaboration.

“We are naturally social beings and happier when we have successful collaboration,” says Dr. Randy Kamen-Gredinger, licensed psychologist and educator. Dr. Kamen-Gredinger develops behavioral programs to help people overcome stress and pain, and also teaches communication skills to build healthier relationships. In her career, Dr. Kamen-Gredinger helped pioneer new territory in mind/body medicine at Boston University’s School of Medicine and has spoken at over 30 colleges and universities and 20 hospitals.

In my conversation with Dr. Kamen-Gredinger, we talked about the importance of collaboration and strategies we can learn to put into practice every day. Here are ten strategies for better collaboration that came out of this discussion to help us have more productive collaborative relationships at home, work, or wherever.

1. Put team success ahead of personal gain.

As an individual, you always want to do your personal best, but learn that team success will always achieve greater results.

Olympic athletes are the best example of team success, where individuals are striving not only for their own performances, but for their country and others, which is the unifying symbol of the Olympic Games.

2. Tap into a broad range of resources.

You’ve probably heard the expression, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, which was established by Gestalt psychologists.

Everyone brings something to the table, whether it is intellectual, creative, or financial, among other things.

3. Be social.

“We have a primitive need to be social,” says Dr. Kamen-Gredinger. On a personal level, people feel great when someone values your interest in them.

4. Ask questions.

Instead of always telling, try asking questions. When you start a conversation with a question, you immediately bring someone else in and add something bigger than what one individual can do, which is how my conversation with Dr. Kamen-Gredinger began.

5. Keep commitments.

For personal and professional development, follow through with your promises. People will know and remember they can count on you.

6. Connect authentically with each other.

Be genuine in your approach to collaborate with people. Working collaboratively can strengthen your connections. As you learn to collaborate better, you will be helping others along the way, too.

7. Do your personal best.

Ask yourself whether you are collaborating or working against every possible means to obtain the best outcome. If situations arise in which you feel threatened, continue to connect with others to work together.

8. Thrust yourself into collaboration.

When you approach a collaborative opportunity, explain what you are doing with as much clarity as possible and express why you feel this way. Open up the possibilities--people will believe in you, and both sides will see the benefits.

9. Tune in when you meet someone.

When you are making a connection, listen carefully and show this person matters to you. Everyone wants to feel their voice matters.

10. Empower yourself to excellence.

Assuming you are doing your personal best as well as others around you, remember we are all in collaboration with each other. You can never go wrong with excellence.