Recently I witnessed a situation where two people were trying to work together. Each of them had their own opinion about the situation and they were defending it severely. They were so focused on getting their point across that they completely failed to see the possible benefits the other’s solution could have. It was like a trench fight, they were digging deeper and fortifying positions, without looking at solutions.
Successfully working with others requires openness in many ways. It asks for openness in sharing your ideas, thoughts and plans. It also asks that you are open to thoughts, ideas and plans from others. In a collaboration you can’t have it all: some situations will go your way, some will follow the ideas of your partner. In some, you come to a mutual solution that builds upon both of your ideas and that transforms into a third idea that both of you could not have seen on forehand. Now we are talking synergy!
This also means that collaboration is about give and take, or maybe better about give and accept. In Dutch we have a word that is difficult to translate. It is about “gunnen”. In your collaboration with the other, you like them to succeed, you don’t need to have it your way. You are giving (gunnen) them room for their solution. Some other day, they will give you room for your solution and you will kindly accept that present. Crossing the chasm by building bridges and reaching out to the other towards the best solution.
Collaboration is everywhere, whether it is on your team, with partners, with your peers, with your direct reports, or even an incidental collaboration with a stranger: they all need openness and building bridges to flourish.
PS: As an executive coach I am in fact a bridge builder. However, if I would change my title to Bridge Builder, people would think that I am in the construction building business. It is more about building bridges between people and companies, by inspiring them to achieve the success they aspire: “Inspire to Aspire”.