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Mastering the Basics of Collaboration


The word collaboration is commonly used to highlight the importance of working together as a team. Being skilled at collaborating is often sought after by hiring companies and is a strength of leadership.

Working as a team is often easier to describe than to execute, especially when tensions run high. When working through conflict or trying to solve a problem, it can be helpful to have some foundational steps to practice to become more effective in collaborating.

1. Explain the purpose of the task.
Open the dialogue and communicate the purpose of the conversation.Then ask the other person or parties what they want and listen authentically. Understanding what the other person is looking for will give you a solid foundation to build on to create mutual goals.

2. Brainstorm open-mindedly.
Once you know what both parties want, it is beneficial to brainstorm ideas with as much freedom as possible within the boundaries of purpose and values. The idea-formation time is not the time to critique each proposal. Working together to develop ideas without criticism will encourage people to share more fully and honestly, and having a number of ideas will give you more to work with.

3. Evaluate the ideas together.
Once you have worked together to create ideas or solutions, weigh the choices and discuss each one's pros and cons as a team. Focusing on each idea's positive and negative aspects is both encouraging and practical in solving a problem.

4. Make a decision.
And after deliberating, it is then time to decide to try one of the feasible ideas for a while and discuss using the other options if the chosen one doesn't work.

5. Evaluate the results.
After the solution has been used, it is important to evaluate how the solution has been working for everyone involved. Receiving feedback and openly discussing it will help other's ideas feel important and that they play a vital role in the team.

Collaboration doesn't have to be complicated; it just requires openness to what others have to say and a willingness to work as a team to find a solution.

Sometimes the most effective ways to collaborate are to return to the basics and take the process one step at a time. And regardless of how the collaboration is going, it is always beneficial to ask clarifying questions and invite feedback to keep the conversation going.

Teach young adults collaboration skills with the Say What? Connecting Through Communication & Conflict module from the Relationship IQ Curriculum.