We spend hours a day thinking we are thinking when in fact we are daydreaming or focusing on past memories.  It’s not actually thinking.  While there are many forms of thinking, the planning process of redesigning our life, our business and a specific project requires some specific skills.  Some skills involve how we think, how we communicate, and other skills involve how we act.  It’s the essence of creating a great image – one which we can have control of, take responsibility for, act on and manifest.  Once it is brought into reality, it has the potential of leaving a great lasting impression.

When we think and then act with deliberate intention, we hope for a specific outcome or result.  Often the results can be dramatically impacted if we learn how to collaborate with those who are helping us to achieve our goals.  The best collaboration can be the best form of leverage to accelerate our progress.

Collaboration requires a specific attitude.  First, you have to be interested in working with others, not just along side of them.  There must be communication, an exchange of ideas, flow of information.  To be interested in working with others requires that we develop great communication, understanding and rapport with others. The focus of our conversations and interactions must be on supporting each other, sharing and understanding perspectives, and bringing the best out of each other.  It is essential therefore that we be authentic and have genuine intent to help, support and add value – not to harm.

Secondly, honesty is essential to ensure the process works effectively.  People have to commit to being open with each other and honest with their intents and desires.  When a team comes together they have a common goal for sure, which they are all striving to attain.  But everyone comes with their own agenda as well.  The old WIIFM – what’s in it for me – syndrome.  To ensure ‘buy in’ from others, they usually must get something out of their involvement.  It could be monetary, material, tangible or intangible.  But when you identify what people want from their involvement, and you help them attain it along with the group goal, then everyone wins.  And everyone will be honest.

Thirdly, responsibility and accountability are essential to ensuring collaboration works.  Once the ground rules are set, each person involved must taking responsibility for their actions and own the consequences of their actions.  Each participant polices the others to ensure all are accountable.  

Next, knowledge of self, others, and the project are essential.  Sensitivity to others is necessary.  And yet, it is important to have a thick skin because to gain further understanding, questions must be asked.  And some questions can be perceived as threatening and people will get defensive.  Openly ask and answer thoroughly the questions that arise.  Be genuine, be honest and keep the conversation focused on the need for greater understanding.

Collaboration provides a unique environment to solve problems.  The ideas and questions will flow fast and furiously.  Set aside your egos and move forward.  Keep the focus of thought on the project and the higher good – perhaps that focus is the business, the customers or the organization.  Avoid competition.  Remember…we win and lose as a team.  It is never because of one person.

When discussions continue, problems are solved and systems and processes are implemented, remember that it is a give-take process.  Negotiation is necessary from everyone.  Keep the end in mind.  If anyone feels they have given up too much, they will be disgruntled and resentful.  And that is when things begin to fall apart.  Get agreement, and maintain the excitement with the focus on the end result and how everyone will benefit. 

Collaboration is very complex and it requires an extraordinary amount of effort on the part of all involved.  Keep your eye on the ball and an open heart and the best results will be for the benefit of all.  Now that’s how to leaving a great lasting impression!

Copyright Deborah Reynolds