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Collaboration vs. Cooperation (when communicating) – which do you prefer?

Communicating in a way where both sides are heard and understood isn’t always easy.

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We keep hearing of a plethora of “good communication” strategies.

In my mind, it helps to understand the answer to these two questions –

🌿 Are we taking the time to ask about and to understand the intent behind the words of the other person?

🌿 Are they hearing us in exactly the way we need to be heard, and if not, can we communicate our point of view better?

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One problem with all this is that our inherent biases, unique cultural norms, and different ways of perceiving the world can get in the way of truly hearing others.

This just means that we each have to put in a little bit of extra work to figure out whether we’re taking offense to something because our world perspective is completely different or is it that we truly know that the other person has something against us.

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I find the difference between the ideas of collaborative and cooperative communication interesting.

Collaboration, or when we actively work with others to accomplish a particular goal, is an extremely valid approach for building something that is meaningful for everyone at the table.

Collaborative communication, equally, is when we take that extra time to clearly communicate our points of view while asking for others’ perspectives rather than telling them what how we think things should be.

A good example of this is an ideal healthcare scenario, where a patient would want the primary care physician and all the specialists to share their unique knowledge and perspectives with each other with a common goal of helping their patient collaboratively.

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Cooperation, or when we freely do what is asked of us in pursuit of a common goal, is also a valid trust building approach for accomplishing a meaningful goal.

With cooperative communication, there is a greater emphasis on listening, being supportive, not being competitive and actively avoiding conflict – especially within the context of a workplace. This is an especially effective form of communication in large groups where there are different power dynamics.

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Both forms of communication require us to build trust with others by giving others a platform to be heard, by being authentic in what we say and by making sure that there is a collective, big picture understanding of the issue at hand.

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As a caveat, if someone is being exceptionally rude, then it is difficult to be either collaborative or cooperative! That would the perfect time to stop, draw boundaries, and step away from what could be an uncomfortable situation.

What are your thoughts on communicating effectively given all our different ways of perceiving the same thing? Do you prefer the collaborative approach or is the cooperative approach more appealing?


6 thoughts on “Collaboration vs. Cooperation (when communicating) – which do you prefer?

  1. Great post! I’m more of a cooperative communicator and I do believe communication of all kinds is so important. Also, being a good listener is really helpful too. I sometimes worry about my relationships and overthink things and have tried to teach myself to not worry so much and to let little things go. This is such an interesting topic and so many points to be made but I think you get my meaning in this short answer, hopefully. Lol 🤩

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love both the suggestions you point out here. The two c’s make me think of something I heard a therapist mention on a podcast – compassionate curiosity. Maybe that’s more for personal communication but if we can stay open, in addition to the trust building suggestions you make above, I think we have a better chance of listening.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like that – compassionate curiosity is a thoughtful mindset to have. Being aware and open does make all the difference. Thanks for adding more food for thought and for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like to talk things through and completely understand both sides when disagreeing. It is very difficult for me when someone doesn’t want to fully communicate to solve an issue. Your advice of stopping, drawing boundaries, and stepping away is something I need to learn to accept.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel that sometimes others aren’t ready to talk exactly at the moment that we are, so its good to step away and give it time. I’m not always the best at that but am trying to do that more as well. Definitely a learning process..

      Liked by 1 person

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