Collaborating – the conflict point of view

I learned first about the concept of collaborating when I had to do my paper on Conflict (management) Styles by Thomas-Kilmann. Thomas-Kilmann defined Compromising, Accommodating and Collaborating as follow:

• The Compromising Style is finding a middle ground or foregoing some of your concerns and committing to other’s concerns.
• The Accommodating Style is foregoing your concerns in order to satisfy the concerns of others.
• The Collaborating Style is when the concern is to satisfy both sides. It is highly assertive and highly cooperative; the goal is to find a “win/win” solution.

I think most people would agree that in the context of working in a team or with stranger/s, the definitions can still be applicable. We collaborate with other people if in the process we’re trying to get the best of all parties involved, not only in interest but also in terms of the contribution from them.

I have had the pleasure of ‘hanging out’ in CommaID in recent months and found myself collaborating with several people on short-term projects. Those people and I discovered that we have similar/overlapping interest and agreed to work on particular project/s by leveraging each other’s skills and experience.

One example, Coach @ReneCC and I learned a while ago that I have some experience in facilitating decision making and collaborative problem solving sessions, including using a tool called OPERA. When he’s planning to experiment his #FluxMe idea to several social movements’ founders, he asked me to facilitate an OPERA session for that particular reason. I think, I did well and the opportunity led to me being involved in several other projects organized by Impact Factory.

How does one start a collaboration process?

I learned since a long time ago that the best way to start collaboration is actually not to ‘sell yourself’ first…but to actually try to understand what they have got to offer…. hence a principle I held closely, “what’s more importance than the right answers is the right questions”. So, we must learn how to ask rightly…

Some of the tips about asking useful questions can be found in the following links:
• 7 steps of asking intelligent questions
• 3 tips of asking better questions

Once we understand what the other person is doing, the person’s areas of interest/s (passion, says coach @reneCC!) and expertise, as well as his/her need/s…we’d have better chance of finding how what we’re doing, our areas of interest/s and expertise can match his/hers…then the discussion can start.

Of course this process is assuming that we’re in full understanding of what we’re doing, our own interest/s, expertise and need! If not, do contact coach @reneCC! 😀

So, in my opinion, the best way to start a collaboration, is to start asking questions… Remember what Fox Mulder said in X-Files, ”Question everything!” ☺ *generasi90an

*I’d like to attribute the writing of this opinion to @tika_anindya, one of the best ‘questioner’ I’ve known.


Fajar Anugerah, Has more than 8 years of experience in managing various projects in private and non-profit sector. An experienced learning experience designer & facilitator with huge passion for social enterprise development.


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