Focus on Relationships to Increase Collaboration

Even in a short time-frame mediation, like those that I do in Small Claims Court, an initial focus on relationships  and process pays off.  If people are ok with what’s going down, process-wise, and nobody is getting bullied, then what flows after, e.g., the “facts”, seems to have more traction.

I believe this same philosophy is really at the heart of addressing bigger issues, too.   For example; in Victoria, where I live, amalgamation is a hot topic.  There are a dozen municipalities in close proximity.  Each is doing there own thing.  Lots of different people, voices and opinions on the subject.

How can we collaborate better?

Focus on relationships

The Relationship Story goes like this… When we are in good relations things go better.  We navigate the highs and lows, together.   We appreciate our differences.  We offer our talents.  We are engaged in our work.  We agree on the problem.  We find solutions.  Together, it can seem like the world is our oyster.

3 different relationships that can improve collaboration

Relationships between people are messy.  We each have our own worlds; of work, family, neighbourhood, interests.  Each relationship intersect all of that.  Our relationship is not just about you and me.  The relationship between people isn’t a physical entity. No surgical procedure will save us if our relationship goes haywire.

Me Team CommunityTo get a handle on the relationships chaos, I find it helpful to think about relationships, and collaboration, on three different levels:

  1. relations with myself; get your act together, Ben!
  2. relations with the people I’m working with or for; e.g. work team, clients
  3. relations in the larger community; typically people i don’t know personally or normally interact with, yet who are impacted by what I’m doing

One way I focus on these different relationships is to ask questions, on the nature of:

  1. what can i personally do to further my own collaborative capacities?  e.g., reflective time, practice matching intention and action…
  2. what can I do that will help the team collaborate better?  e.g., appreciate each team member’s offering, be a “yes, and…” type of guy…
  3. what can i do that will serve the community, now and into the future?  e.g., pay it back (or forward), contribute to the larger cause…

Cumulative effect

The cumulative effect of all of these relationships is one of increased collaboration; with ourselves, others, and the community-at-large.  One doesn’t know how the future will play out, as much as we’d like to!   Chance is at play.  “Luck comes when preparation meets opportunity.”  So, bid positively and let fate fall where it may.

Over time, similar to investing early in the financial market, the future value of today’s extra efforts, collaborating with more people, especially different from us, may surprise.  Reduce future risk with a diversified portfolio.

So, next time you question taking extra time to collaborate, don’t leave your collaborative goodwill off the table.  Focus on relationships.  Expand the collaboration pie, today.

Question for you: What type of collaborative relationship(s) do you focus on, today, for future ROI?


  1. […] When we are in good relations things go better. We navigate the highs and lows, together. We appreciate our differences. We offer our talents. We are engaged in our work. We agree on the problem. We find solutions. Together, it can seem like the world is our oyster.  […]

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