Brian Riehman

Communicate to Collaborate

· Brian Riehman

One of the most difficult aspects of any job is working with someone who communicates through conflict rather than collaboration. They communicate in absolute terms and it may feel that there is no room for discussion or cooperation. This frequently occurs in the dissemination of policy changes from a person in a position of authority or a peer when providing feedback.

The immediate reaction of the recipient of this message is to become defensive and resist. They recipient may feel resentful, frustrated, and respond by lashing out or countering the message they are receiving. The conversation becomes a conflict instead of a collaboration.

Working through a conflict is much more challenging than having a collaborative discussion. Conflict cannot always be avoided, but it should never be the preferred path.

Communication through collaboration will be a much more successful path. This requires more thinking, emotional intelligence, and tact from both parties. The conversation will create a shared understanding as the parties seek to understand each other’s perspective. A resolution will be reached only through this shared understanding. Otherwise, resentment lingers and conflict surfaces.

When communicating at work, or anywhere for that matter, ask yourself how you are working to collaborate and try to actively avoid generating an unnecessary conflict.