Chapter 3. Collaborating with Empathy

When I’ve asked clients what collaboration looks like on their teams, I’ve heard an array of answers. The most common response goes something like this: “We get everyone in the room, give them the project details and deadline, and then tell them to figure it out.” This can be effective some of the time, but it’s not collaboration; it does, however, closely resemble an octagon match! Collaboration should never be a fight-to-the-death scenario. It should be deliberate, based on trust, and how every team approaches work.

Henry Ford said it best: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” The thing about this quote that really stands out is that it shows just how many steps we must take in order to effectively work as a team. It’s more difficult than just coming together, and it’s more complex than staying together. Any group of people can be put into a room. With the right incentives, almost anyone can stay in that room for however long is necessary. Collaboration, though, requires a great deal of intention, restraint, open-mindedness, and honesty. And no team that excels at collaboration can do so without empathy.

What Is Collaboration?

To determine how individuals and teams can collaborate with empathy, we first must define “collaboration.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing.”

Many companies are ...

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