Doug Fleener's

The Day Makes the Year


One Team: Fostering Collaboration

Aug 05, 2023

Your ability to understand others' perspectives and work together effectively directly impacts your individual and shared success. However, significant barriers often prevent effective collaboration. Preconceived notions, miscommunication, and conflicting priorities can derail teamwork and undermine results.  

You can break down these barriers by making a concerted effort to understand others' points of view. Instead of jumping to conclusions or being wedded to your thinking, you can approach team members with openness and genuine curiosity. It starts by asking questions, listening intently, and trying to put yourself in others' shoes. 

Understanding where someone is coming from does not mean fully agreeing with their perspective. The goal is to gain insight into how and why they think the way they do. This clarity and empathy form a foundation of trust that enables compromise and shared problem-solving. As Stephen Covey wrote, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." 

Here are three strategies to understand team members' perspectives:

Ask Clarifying Questions: Rather than make assumptions, ask thoughtful questions to clarify someone's viewpoint. "What makes you feel that way?" "What is most important to you in this situation?" Clarifying questions show your genuine interest in learning more. It also gives you essential information to move forward together.

Paraphrase and Summarize: After someone shares their perspective, paraphrase or summarize it to ensure you understand correctly. "So, if I'm hearing you right, you're concerned that..." Doing this demonstrates active listening and gives them a chance to clarify further.

Discuss Differing Priorities: Have open conversations about the priorities, needs, and interests underlying each person's stance. Identifying where these align and differ will highlight opportunities for compromise.

Understanding colleagues' perspectives, even when disagreements persist, fosters goodwill and a shared purpose. This spirit of collaboration leads to synergistic solutions and propels teams to higher performance levels. After all, we can achieve so much more together than alone. Understanding each other is a vital step. One Team – Better Together. 

So let me ask three clarifying questions:

1) Have you ever seen whales synchronized swimming? (Video)

2) Is your teamwork such that three of you could jump out of the ocean at the same time?

3) How can you improve collaboration within your team?