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6 crucial collaboration skills

Collaboration is all about bringing people together from different departments, locations, and teams, then focusing their efforts on a common goal. But it can’t happen unless everyone’s on the same page, skill-wise. Collaboration is a process, but collaborating well is a skill that’s honed over time.

Here we are going to list some of the skills needed to effectively collaborate


One of the most important aspects of collaborating well is being open to and accepting of new ideas. When people get in that meeting room to discuss a project, each coming from a different perspective and area of expertise, there’s inevitably going to be a flurry of ideas on the table about how to proceed—ideas that’ll be unfamiliar, new, exciting, and possibly difficult to understand. And because curiosity and open-mindedness are among the fundamental building blocks of collaboration, leaders will need to find ways to encourage them in their people.


Clear and thoughtful communication is another must-have for successful collaboration. Your people will need to be able to express themselves to each other. The problem is, people communicate differently. Some of us feel perfectly comfortable speaking in groups; others don’t. And fostering clear and open communication means being mindful of different communication styles and adapting the way you communicate accordingly. Your collaborative process should incorporate an alternative way of communicating, otherwise your most outspoken people will steal the show. Helping people improve their communication skills is difficult, but it can be done once they feel more comfortable.


Collaboration can’t be successful unless people are able to delegate workload, take care of their responsibilities, and keep themselves organized—and that’s why organization is another crucial collaboration skill. Ideally, this isn’t a skill that you’ll need to teach your people (assuming of course you’ve made an effort to hire organized people). But sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. Leaders can train people to be more organized by making collaboration a part of everyone’s everyday routine.

Long-term thinking

Another extremely important component of collaboration is being able to think long-term and envision the end-result of your collaborative work. Collaboration is all about working towards a common goal or shared purpose and recognizing how your contributions fit into that goal. For employees who want to improve their collaboration skills, this means gaining an understanding of a project’s scope and everyone’s role in it. The more you know about the focus of a given project, the better equipped you’ll be to make it happen. For leaders, you’ll need to adequately explain the “why” of a project.


Let’s face it: collaborative projects often don’t go as planned. Priorities shift, obstacles delay progress, and problems occur, catapulting the whole project into complete disarray—all of which might tempt us to throw up our hands and walk away. Of course, that’s typically not an option in the workplace. To persevere, people will need to be able to adapt at a moment’s notice. Adaptability is a crucial collaboration skill, but it’s another one of those difficult-to-teach ones. Adapting well to change comes with practice and experience.


Another skill that’ll make you a more effective collaborator is being able to tactfully and productively debate ideas with your colleagues (without taking it too personally). When you’re in the meeting room with your project team, debate is often the driver of innovation: good ideas take precedence, not-as-good ideas take a backseat, and the project moves forward. But debating well can be very difficult, especially if you’re emotionally attached to your argument.

For leaders, this means establishing a collaborative environment where friendly, constructive debate is encouraged and, if necessary, regulated.



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