Collaboration Skills in the Workplace

Introduction to Collaboration Skills

The workplace is full of diverse personalities and cultures. While many organizations make an effort to understand their own workforce, they often fail to consider the impact a diverse workforce has on general workplace dynamics. The fact is, office politics are prevalent and at times difficult to handle. Though this is a challenge for everyone involved, misunderstandings, miscommunication and disagreements can be particularly strong when two people with different communication styles work together. While people may understand that they live in a multicultural world, they may not understand that there are nine primary communication styles, each with their own criteria, triggers and values. Understanding these communication styles can impact all areas of the working environment: from how members of a team approach projects to how an organization communicates internally and externally.

It’s likely you have experienced what we describe as “office politics” and, if not, chances are you will soon enough. Office politics have existed from the beginning of time; whether it be two people competing for the same job title or a group of individuals who don’t see eye-to-eye on how to approach a particular project. Understanding office politics is essential to understanding business as well as your own communication style. The challenge of office politics is that it can often be seen as a negative rather than acknowledging the skills needed to avoid or successfully handle them. It’s important to note that collaboration and office politics are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, performing well with others is essential for business.

Many years ago, in order to avoid office politics, people would do whatever they could to fly under the radar with minimal participation or contribution. Today’s collaborative culture is different; employees want to be part of a team and therefore, if someone does not contribute to a project (no matter how small), it can have a significant impact on morale and productivity. Collaboration is not just a business buzzword, it’s necessary to move forward in today’s working environment and its projected to only grow more important.

Office politics are the result of different people coming together, regardless if they work on the same team or for the same organization. It may be tempting to think that you can avoid office politics by avoiding the people who create them, but this isn’t realistic. If you are in a management position or responsible for hiring new team members, it’s important to strengthen your approach and understanding of office politics within your organization so that collaboration is nurtured rather than not encouraged. This guide will provide you with details on how to improve collaboration skills and become a better team player.

The Collaboration Process Model:

People may think that office politics are unavoidable, but this isn’t the case. Office politics are created from misunderstandings or miscommunication between people within an organization.

When we put our own personal spin on things based on past experiences, it influences how we interpret other people’s actions.

This is why it’s important to understand the different forms of communication and how they impact your working environment. These styles are listed below.

Behavioral Styles:

1. Assertive:

You know who you are, what you want and will let everyone around you know that as well. If this means saying exactly what’s on your mind, no matter how offensive it may be, you will do that. You also know when to keep quiet and when people are wrong. This is the most common style among managers and executives because people often look up to them as an example of what they want to model in their own behavior. Assertive communicators are not afraid of confrontation and will tell you exactly how they feel. They’re confident in their own abilities, even if others don’t have the same confidence in them. Their self esteem is high but not to a fault; assertive communicators know when to admit when they make mistakes.

2. Passive Aggressive:

This style of communication is known for being indirect and confusing. Passive aggressive communicators are people who say one thing but really mean something else beneath the surface. They tend to be nervous, insecure people who want approval from others but constantly feel as though they’re falling short at meeting expectations. They will avoid confrontation rather than face it head on which often leads to people accusing them of hiding something. Passive aggressive communicators may initially come across as agreeable but in reality, they are not happy with the way things are going.

3. Condescending:

This personality style is characterized by a lack of empathy and an attitude that puts you in your place while simultaneously making others feel small. Their goal is to “help” you by pointing out your flaws because they think they have better solutions to offer. They may speak down to you in a condescending tone, using words like ‘obviously’ and ‘you should know this already’ regularly. Someone who is being spoken down to would likely feel belittled, unworthy or even stupid.

4. Manipulative:

This style of communication is all about getting what they want by using deceitful tactics to get their way. Manipulators don’t care who they hurt along the way, as long as they achieve their desired outcome. For example, someone who has a history of ‘borrowing’ items from work and not returning them may try to get away with it by using guilt tactics. Manipulative communicators come across as self-centered and controlling, often finding ways of making others feel bad so they can avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. Manipulative people have a way of deflecting blame to make others think that they are the one who is really at fault.

5. Passive:

This is a difficult style to spot because it often comes across as sincerity and even friendliness when in reality, it’s just another way of avoiding conflict or confrontation. Passive communicators will go out of their way to please everyone so that they don’t have any enemies but it also means they may sacrifice their own needs and wants. They’re people-pleasers who don’t know how to say ‘no,’ especially because they hate disappointing others. This style of communication is often seen in people who are trying to please a manager or executive who doesn’t respect them enough to consider their feelings or ideas. Passive communicators will stay quiet and out of sight, hoping that their hard work isn’t noticed but in reality, they end up doing other people’s work while their own goes unnoticed.

6. Aggressive:

This style of communication is common among bullies who have low self esteem. They don’t feel worthy so they think they need to establish their dominance and superiority over others. Aggressive communicators are often people-pleasers who are constantly trying to impress those around them by getting them to think highly of them. However, this means that they will tend to get overly emotional and negative when things don’t turn out exactly the way they had hoped. They can bring others down in order to make themselves feel better.

7. Bully:

This style of communication is often used by people who are trying to cover up their insecurity and low self esteem with an over-sized ego . They will use whatever tactics they have at their disposal in order to win every argument or conflict, including insults – either subtle or direct. They are constantly trying to keep others ‘in their place’ so they will often resort to name calling when someone disagrees with them. Bullies intimidate people with their aggression and criticism because they need to feel better about themselves.

Collaboration Strategy:

1. When you are planning to collaborate with someone, make sure both of you have a mutual understanding regarding what is expected from the collaboration.

2. Make sure both of you agree on who will be responsible for what deliverables before starting the project so there won’t be any disagreements later in the process.

3. Use open communication to address any issues that come up and talk about them honestly rather than using blame or criticism.

4. Agree on the best way to communicate with each other, whether it be by text, email or phone and stick to it so you won’t have any miscommunication later in the project.

5. Don’t be hesitant to ask questions if you are unclear about something.

6. Don’t rush through the process without understanding what is expected so there won’t be any issues later on and it will make you seem like less of a risk or liability for the company. 7. Follow the deadlines that were agreed upon in order to avoid missing any milestones on the project.

8. Make sure both of you agree to solve any conflicts by communicating honestly and respectfully, focusing more on finding a common ground than winning an argument for the sake of it.

9. Agree that in case either one of you are not happy with the outcome or results, there won’t be any hard feelings and you will use the experience as a lesson to make things better next time.

Tips for developing collaboration skills in the workplace:

-Take the initiative in order to improve your collaboration skills with others by asking questions if you aren’t sure about something.

-Keep an open mind and be willing to try new things and expand your network when it comes to collaborations.

-Respect other people’s ideas even though they may conflict with your own, as long as they are constructive.

-Work on team building activities in order to improve your relationship with others and develop strong collaboration skills.

-Be supportive of the ideas from other people around you, especially during group work sessions.

-Demonstrate respect by listening attentively to other people’s ideas instead of dismissing them or rushing to give your own.

-Be open and share information with others in the group in order to pool resources for everyone’s benefit.

-Take responsibility as a leader of a team when it comes to collaborating with others by setting an example and encouraging the members to work together.

-Don’t be afraid to ask others for help if you are struggling with a task or assignment.

-Do your best and give it all you’ve got when collaborating with others so that they will also do the same.

-Try not to let personal disagreements affect your collaborative work, as long as they aren’t affecting the work of others.

-Be a good team player by encouraging others and setting an example, while being supportive and focused on reaching specific goals as a group.

-Don’t allow yourself to be distracted with personal issues or problems when collaborating with others because it can affect your productivity and focus.

-Do your best to be punctual for group activities in order to avoid conflicts with other members and allow everyone enough time for work.

-Set healthy boundaries when collaborating so that both of you know what the expectations are from each other.

-Agree upon a specific schedule or timeframe for completing collaborative tasks, allowing yourselves plenty of time for regular check-ins and updates.

-Express your concerns by talking to others about problems you’re having or things that are getting in the way of collaborating with them successfully.

-Don’t give up when collaborating, even if it seems as though nothing is going right because communication may be the issue instead.


Collaboration is vital to be efficient and productive at work, especially in a society that has become more interconnected than ever before. It requires people to work together as a team while respecting each others ideas and opinions in order to achieve common goals or pursue certain projects. The tips listed above can help you improve your collaboration skills with other people, but it takes practice and time. If you make a commitment to collaborate with others more on a regular basis, eventually your skills will improve.

Short Online Courses

Similar Posts