We all recognize that being a cooperative person will make not only the project or task you are working on go more smoothly, but also make you and your co-workers happier.
But just what does it mean to be cooperative?
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when you work in a cooperative group.
Research as shared in Scientific American indicates that groups with members from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds are more creative than groups where everyone shares the same background. Recognizing this fact and valuing the different opinions and experiences of group members will go far in accomplishing a better final project. Making sure that everyone in the group gets equal amounts of time to speak, ask questions, and participate will make the group function more smoothly.
Active listening is essential for developing strong communication among cooperative group members. To be an active listener means you concentrate not only on the words being said, but also the meaning of the words, and consideration of the point of view of the speaker.
When we listen actively, we do not speak or interrupt or ask questions. Instead, we look at the speaker directly. We do not think about what we want to say or how we will rebut. We ignore side distractions.
We let the speaker know we are listening by nodding, having an open facial expression, sitting in a relaxed way. We encourage the speaker by making noncommittal but positive sounds in our throat– a hum, an um, etc.
Positive feedback is praise on steroids. Praise is saying something good about someone or something using overused praise words like good, fine, excellent, and super.
Positive feedback, on the other hand, might start with one of those words, but it doesn’t stop there.
Instead, we detail exactly what was good, great, and wonderful. For example, we might say: Wow. You explained how the voting process works very clearly.” Or “Thanks. Now I understand why we need to be careful talking to the mayor.” See here for more examples.
By focusing in on a specific detail to praise, we avoid misunderstandings where a member or members think you are fully in support of one idea or another. We also let the speaker know exactly what they have done well.
There is no such thing as a stupid question. But often it feels like we are exposing ourselves to ridicule when we question something that everyone else seems to understand. However, it is always better to ask for clarification. In fact, even if you think you understand something, it is a good idea to question a speaker. For one thing, the speaker may find more to say or may present her or his thoughts in a deeper or more meaningful way. In addition, members who have questions, but did not ask, will benefit as well.
Make sure that questions are phrased positively. Avoid the word you and frame the question around the topic rather than the person. Instead of saying “Why did you say that?” try “Did the research indicate anything else we need to consider?” Here is more on positive questioning.
Being a cooperative member of a group, requires us to have a good understanding of what our strengths are and how we can best use these skills to help the group. The trick is informing the group in such a way that you are not bragging or trying to appear more competent to someone else. This is where the phrase “I had an experience like this…” or “I did something like this …” can provide a way for you share a specific skill you have gained that matches the need. If someone else has volunteered for that task you can use the same phrase and offer to help.