Want better collaboration? Try Identification, Appreciation, and Affiliation

Two shaking hands with the word partners underneath drawn on a blackboard

Would you like to have better collaboration at work. Consider identifying where others are coming from. Really listen to them. What is going on in their lives at work, home, and life?  What are their biggest concerns? Next how do you appreciate them?  There are a host of ways for you to inspire, promote trust and appreciate others. Finally, how can you collaborate and affiliate with them on common goals, shared values, and common interests.  All of these can help you have better collaboration with others. Read on to learn more.




Identifying  what works, what doesn’t work, and what you can do together to work even better is the first step.  Overcoming conflicts by identifying issues, addressing them, and then taking actions to a resolve them goes a long way towards addressing miscommunication and misunderstandings. It is important to identify what you and others see as the facts.

Listen to the other party first and ask open ended questions.

These are other than yes/no questions. Suspend judgement and do not offer advice. Instead, actively listen to them. Take 10 minutes to just listen to them. Ask them questions related to how they see things. How do they feel about things?  What would they like to see happen in the future?  Ask them to tell you more about these things. Really listen without judgement.

Explore common interests and values. 

What are areas where you can relate to one another?  Explore common interests at work and outside of work.  Keep an open mind. For example, education, geography, children, pets, coffee or tea, hobbies, having fun and other areas. Be creative. What you want to do at this stage is find ways to connect with the other person authentically. You are building a relationship where you can relate to one another. Emotional bonding is a real key to developing a good working relationship.




How can you appreciate the other person?  Initially you may think of appreciation is thanking the other person, and that is important. Now think more broadly how can you be there to help and build trust?  Could you help them with their work assignments?  Can you provide direction, ask questions, explore possibilities, mentor, or be a listening ear. 

Actions speak louder than words. What actions can you take to demonstrate appreciation? 

Could you take someone to coffee (or for a coke or tea or go with them for a walk)?  Could you bring a treat or have a treat sent to the other party if you are remote?  Could you write an email of appreciation or write a hand written note?  Explore the website on appreciation, read some blogs on the topic of appreciation and expand your understanding.  Try some things. Act. See how well this works. Change and try other ways to appreciate others.

By taking genuine actions to appreciate others at work you will be able to authentically connect with them. This will help you build trust. 

Trust and inspiration go long way towards being able to affiliate with each other. Check out Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, Trust and Inspire.  Some key points from that text included:

  • The nature of the world has changed – just look at technological innovations
  • Command and control just does not compare to trust and inspire in productivity, customer satisfaction, and employee satisfaction.
  • To win in the marketplace you need collaboration and innovation
  • Put service over self interest
  • Listen first demonstrating that respect flows through humility
  • The potential for greatness lives within each of us
  • The trilogy
    • Modeling who you are
    • Trusting how you lead
    • Inspiring to why
    • Find the intersection of these three things brings the best out of you and others
  • Others will like you as a person, want to deliver for you, and want to contribute with you

So, when you trust and inspire others this will lead to greater affiliation.




What are ways you can affiliate with each other? What are areas where you can personally collaborate and offer ideas of where the other party may be able to collaborate with you and others?

When you are part of a group, and you feel closely associated with that group, party, company, or team you are all aligned with a common goal. You are focused on where we want to go as team. This is your ultimate goal. Yes, there are differences, and these differences actually make your team stronger because you value all of the skill sets offered by team members.  Everyone is connected in some way. The value of the connection inspires others to work harder to maintain these positive connections.

When you are affiliated with others it is more than a business relationship.  It is also a social relationship. 

By making the effort to make it a social as well as business relationship and finding ways to connect with each other this allows for even better bonds, further understanding, and a chance to further enhance your association with other members of your team. When you are all aligned and inspired this results in a great commitment to the team and tasks, enhances effectiveness, and inspires innovative change. The group develops a growth mindset, becomes more collaborative, and more flexible with each other. They have each other’s backs and look out for one another.

This change in mindset results in leading people and managing things rather than managing people. Think about how that feels. Isn’t that a place you would want to work and be affiliated with?




The three major steps promoted by Can Shapiro at Harvard to argue effectively are identification, appreciation, and affiliation. I have expanded on his short video with commentary here. Identify the current situation. Listen to others. Clearly define problems, facts, issues, interests, and emotions around these elements. Ensure everyone is heard. Appreciate everyone for their contributions. Encourage everyone and reinforce contributions. Look for ways to appreciate others both by thanking and by doing things that demonstrate that you care, and that are meaningful to other members. Finally, find ways to perform at a higher level by promoting ways to authentically connect with each other at work and by exploring others interests outside of work. You may even find ways to connect and do things together with others outside of work.

By taking steps like this you can expand your own emotional intelligence and become a more well-rounded person, inspire others, and help them enhance their emotional intelligence too. Let me know what you think.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]