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Communication, Collaboration and Cooperation: The 3 C’s of Teamwork

Have you ever tried to communicate with someone and you just couldn’t get your point across? Or maybe you thought it came out right, but the other person took it the wrong way? Why is it that we can communicate so easily with some people and with others we just can’t seem to get it right? Certainly, your relationship with the person, and education or expertise in an area, will have an influence on the way you communicate; but often the way you communicate with others has a lot to do with your innate personality traits.

We all have many differing characteristics that make up our personality. These characteristics are ingrained in the way we communicate. There are many personality profiles and assessments, but a fun and simple one for an organization is the True Colors Assessment. This profile categorizes people in four main predominant color categories, Blue, Green, Gold or Orange. The categories are not static, as we all have traits from each category, but can offer an insight into communication styles that can foster better communication. According to True Colors, Blues are empathetic, compassionate and cooperative. Greens are analytical, intuitive and visionary. Golds are punctual, organized and precise. Oranges are energetic, spontaneous & charming. Learning the traits and communication styles of each type can foster smoother communication.

Blue Communication - A Blue's world revolves around people, relationships, and fostering growth in themselves and others. When speaking, they first focus their attention on establishing a relationship or reconnecting with the person. The information they wish to convey is woven into this. Tips for Communicating with Blues: - Acknowledge them - Show appreciation - Include them - Have patience - Don't "bark" orders.

Green Communication - For the most part, Greens communicate for the purpose of gaining or sharing information. During a conversation, their attention is usually focused on the matter at hand, not on the relationship. Tips for Communicating with Greens: Allow Them Time to Ponder, Skip the "small talk," Avoid Redundancy, Give Big Picture or Point first, then fill in details if asked, don't misinterpret their need for info as interrogation.

Gold Communication - Golds are generally respectful and responsible. They listen for details so they know what their part is. They usually size up a situation for what would be most appropriate before responding. Tips for Communicating with Golds: - Be prepared, give details - Stay on target, be consistent - Show respect - Don't interrupt - Recognize their contributions

Orange Communication Generally, Oranges want to share their opinion the minute it hits their mind. Interested in taking action and being expedient, they may skip the softeners and go straight for the "punch-line." Tips for Communicating with Oranges: - Use "sound bites" - Move with them while they multitask - Appreciate their flair - Allow options and flexibility - Lighten up. (Source:

Overall all communication styles benefit from some specific ways to improve communication and collaboration.

Here are 10 Important Tips for Improved Communication and Collaboration

  1. Know Your Style - Knowing what communication style you have, and knowing the styles of the people around you, can help you improve your communication.

  2. Communication Preferences - Whether calls, texts. in-person, or e-mail, know the other person’s preference for communication and affirm yours as well

  3. Mission - Focus on a fixed mission that the team can work towards a common cause. Mission focused teams are much more productive.

  4. Define the Objective and Goals need to achieve it - If you are meeting in order to get something accomplished for the company, start by defining the objective. Be clear about your end goal, agree on the steps that will get you to that end, and how you measure achievement of the goal. Decide on who will be responsible for which steps in the process.

  5. Questions - Ask questions, but not leading ones. Leading questions presume that you know the answer. Short, open ended questions allow your team members to give their own answers.

  6. Active Listening and Body Language - Listen to your co-worker to understand what they are saying, don’t just listen to reply. If you are concentrating on what you will say next, then it is harder to truly listen. To help you concentrate, remove distractions, such as phones or computers, at the start of the conversation. Your body language shows if you are not really listening to someone. Demonstrate that you are engaged in the conversation. Lean forward, uncross your arms, and look them in the eye.

  7. Build Trust, and Foster Cohesion – By actively listening to those around you, you build rapport and trust through collaborative communication. Taking time to learn about the person as an individual, their thoughts and interests, also fosters cohesive team.

  8. Do what you say you will do – Following through with a commitment or agreement, and competing the task, also helps build trust and fosters cooperative team work.

  9. Foster freedom to take risks and leverage talent - Fostering rapport and trust, and allowing those around you to take a risk on something new, can potential have great returns. Innovation often comes about through taking a risk. Utilizing the talents of other team members, helps them grow and grows the organization as well.

  10. Practice - Good communication takes practice. Try some of the ideas and hopefully you will find your conversations are more productive and create a collaborative environment.

Above all, recognize the contributions of those around you when they excel. Personal, one-on-one recognition, as well as team acknowledgement, can go a long way towards fostering positivity on your team.Putting together the best communication styles, with collaborative and cooperative leadership, is ultimately a formula for success!