Business is all about collaboration! Coming from me, this is probably not a very surprising statement. However, some people might feel that business is about results. It might be, but results are also created in collaboration. So, business is all about collaboration and we’d better get better at it.

Here are four tips to help you improve your collaboration:


1) Understand and be understood.

Whether you are working in collaboration with other companies, in teams or simply with one other person, make sure you understand each other. All too often people assume they understand the other without verifying. You both have a different background and you might have a different understanding of the meaning of words or abbreviations. Don’t be shy about asking for clarification. Sometimes the simple question that starts with “what do you mean with …” leads to the most eye opening insights for both partners in a collaboration. Make this questioning into an ongoing habit: it can keep you clear of difficult situations in the future.


2) Be crystal clear about expectations.

I have mentioned this one many times before and I will emphasize on it again: make sure you know why you and your partner(s) are collaborating together. Don’t assume, but verify and ask for clarification if you are in doubt. This is one of the foundational elements of a collaboration; be crystal clear about your intentions and expectations for the collaboration and ensure that you understand your partner’s motivations as well. Do this before you start your actual collaboration!


3) Be open and share.

Some lawyers might get the chills when they read this header. I don’t mean that you should share everything with the world. The foundational elements come first and you need to build trust with your partner or team mate as well. Yet, teamwork and other kinds of collaboration can only flourish if you are open and share what needs to be shared. Synergy can only be reached when the necessary information is available to all who need to know. The moment one of you starts holding back essential information, is the moment you are starting to break down the collaboration.


4) No gossiping and backstabbing

It sounds so logical, doesn’t it? Still, I have seen many situations where people talk about each other instead of with each other. They have an opinion about another team mate and share that with other people. Unfortunately, that opinion is often a negative one based on an assumption. Verification has not been done and by sharing it with other people they are backstabbing their partner. Try to make it a habit to first understand what is happening and why your partner is doing what he or she is doing. Then share feedback for improvement with your partner and not with others. Also, share your praise when things are going well, and share that with both your partner and with others.


All four of these tips are in the realm of communication. That is the area where collaborations mostly go sour. Apply these tips to your alliance, your team, and your personal leadership and you’ll be surprised what the positive buzz will do to your collaborations!