Collaborative Mindset

If you are looking for a way to change how you see yourself, the collaborative mindset offers a powerful set of assumptions and behaviours that can be successfully integrated into your thinking, decisions and actions.

The collaborative mindset differs from the “me” mindset in several ways. Collaboration is outward-focused and about learning and discovery. Having this mindset allows you to ask, explore, create solutions, investigate and listen, as your underlying premise is that you, “may be missing something”. The “me” mindset which says, “I’m right”, can be judgmental, inflexible, blaming and sees others as misinformed.

With the collaborative mindset, you have a perspective but it may be incomplete or inaccurate. This resonates with people as you care enough about them and their perspective to understand and address an issue together.

The top outcomes of having a collaborative mindset are;

 Better communication and understanding
 Stronger client relationships
 Greater trust
 More meaningful client conversations

When you believe that you have something to learn about a client, that you only know part of their story and that they are trying their best to make the right decision you can transform what is often a difficult conversation into one where both parties feel good about themselves and each other. When we are around people who we agree with and are working towards the same goals, it’s easy to find our collaborative mindset.

Increasing your awareness into which mindset you resort to with client conversations may help you to have less resistance to difficult conversations. During stressful situations, a new perspective is challenging because it requires us to slow down, steer away from our defensive behavior and consciously use a new approach.

Clients are looking for insight and ideas to expand what they already know and for you to help them solve their current and future challenges. You can use your expertise to reshape their thinking, influence their decisions and enhance the client’s perceived value of your service.

With a collaborative mindset driving our behavior, instead of rising to judgment, we test our assumptions and suspend our judgments about others. By having this openness during client conversations we can be open to input that may enable us to reach a different conclusion. When we can explain to clients the information we gathered and our experience with the topic it allows them to better understand and perhaps appreciate the path we made to arrive at our position.

Let’s look at the collaborative mindset attributes; transparency, empathy, compassion, active listening and paraphrasing.

 Transparency is important as learning is only possible when people are speaking honestly and openly about what they understand. By being transparent with clients about what we are trying to accomplish in taking the actions that we do, it prevents them from having to question our intentions.

 Empathy and compassion are also foundational attributes to the collaborative mindset, since when we are listening to others and care about what they have to say it’s easier to understand their perspective and find common ground.

 Active listening involves being assertive when it comes to gathering information about clients and what they are saying and not saying. Exploring what emotions are behind the words can include paying attention to tone, intensity and body language.

 Paraphrasing allows you to let the other person know that what you heard and observed as well as any insight you’ve gained through these perceptions.

To begin to better understand where clients are coming from, suspend any judgments you may have, actively listen, be honest and declare your intention to collaborate together to reach their goals. Demonstrate that you understand their world by asking questions. Asking the right questions at the right time to the right people can be as educational and persuasive as offering insights and answers.

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© 2009 Rosemary Smyth & Associates