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Collaboration and Communication

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Why You Should Listen to Your Quietest Teammate

Activate an idea circle. Rather than opening a discussion where the most verbal participants shape the conversation, create a structure that invites everyone to pitch in. Often, the best ideas are left unspoken. Sometimes team politics make it unsafe to speak up. Maybe more introverted teammates prefer to listen than talk. An idea circle extracts innovation from the quiet side of the team. Here’s a way to turn up the volume.

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Finish the Argument

Day-to-day interactions with colleagues often provide an indication of the quality of communication without revealing much evidence about the reasons for its strength or weakness. True data usually lives beneath the surface. When it’s not going well, the motive for the choice not to collaborate is frequently some unresolved grudge that converts a “we” into an “us vs. them.” Perhaps a teammate said something insulting six months ago. Maybe a counterpart came from the wrong side of a merger following a corporate acquisition. Sometimes a colleague stays loyal to a previous leader. Either way, a talent with whom you should partner is rendered off limits. What should you do?

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Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Ask the tough questions only when you truly want the answers. Requests for feedback are often misunderstood as appeals for praise. Why ask unless you are prepared to absorb the critique and make the changes it evokes? Consider intensifying the challenge. Rather than asking a friend, ask a stranger. Instead of soliciting one opinion, ignite a feedback circle. Here’s an example:

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Peer Pressure

It took nearly three years for the Team Clock Institute to publish the soon-to-be-released interpersonal suite of products. The assessment sort cards and action workbook unfolded quickly since they are both anchored in the trademarked principles and methodology of the Team Clock. The book, Useful Pain: Why Your Relationships Need Struggle, took over two years to complete. While the author had his own obstacles, the primary source of delay was the decision to invite critique.

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The Music of Teams

The executive leadership team I coach on Friday mornings doesn’t always see eye-to-eye. Sometimes, a teammate opts out of the discussion when he or she isn’t getting their way. As a coach, I finesse a way to invite them back into the conversation. The musicians who gather in my basement on Friday nights find ways to collaborate without words. It’s a universal language. Sometimes there is harmony and other times there is dissonance. There is always communication. Fridays are full of lessons.

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