8 ways to collaborate more effectively

Who would have thought that being a good person will increase your sphere of influence and help you enjoy work more?

Over the past few years, I’ve learned that supercharging a room with intensity does not foster a creative environment. Being a Steve Jobs type is not the be-all-end-all path to success. A room full of big personalities doesn’t need another big personality. More often than not, contrasting the big personalities with composure is more effective than inciting a shouting match.

Strategy meetings and design reviews are for solving problems together. Sometimes ideas shared in these meetings send me back to the artboard to rework an experience with a new context. The tech industry has lots of passionate people but no one wants to get burned by the intensity.

Here are 8 ways to tame intensity and maximize collaboration when working on a product:

1. Start with yourself

Be cool and those around you will be cool too. You want to create an environment where people can express themselves.

2. Take time to calm your mind

Take time to calm your mind. No one wants to hear someone run off at the mouth. Stay honest and relatable.

3. Think more and talk less

Instead of trying to speak all the time, wait for the best time to speak. Be deliberate with what you say.

4. Ask good questions to open up dialogue

The design process opens up meaningful dialogue. We need the design process so we can define assumptions and clarify expectations. Asking questions will lead to a fruitful conversation.

5. Trust your coworkers

If your coworker has an idea you aren’t sure about, voice your insecurity but trust him or her to deliver. Express your trust in words. Designers are not always right and we need to defer to the authority of a good engineer.

6. Disagreements are okay

If there is a difference of opinion and it’s not reconcilable, acknowledge the fork in the road and move on. You can explore more options to come to a resolution in the future. The key is to move on and resist the urge to grind the axe.

7. Don’t sweat small stuff because everything will change again anyway

Don’t grind an axe if you don’t have anything to chop. The design process is iterative and you will have more opportunities to steer the final outcome closer to your vision.

8. Be thankful because it will make you happy

Thank people for their contribution and their time. A little thankfulness will encourage those around you and will spur them to collaborate more in the future. You will be happier too.


Disclaimer: I acknowledge that I am a work in progress and I often find myself carried away in a meeting. I am trying to live out these values so I can increase my sphere of influence and enjoy work more.

Originally posted on Concept & Craft, Jan. 14, 2016.

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