Relationship Help: Co-Existing, Co-Operating or Collaborating?

Co-existing? Co-operating? Collaborating? Which is it generally in your relationship?

It's important to contemplate these distinctions because they make all the difference in the viability and the vitality of your relationship.

You can look the words up in a dictionary and you'll find there is little distinction, but in terms of relationship help, there are important differences to take note of.  They will help you understand the nuances which lead to the difference in feelings that you get from each. I hope it helps you.

People who co-exist may think that's great because there are good things to be said for simply accepting your circumstances and getting on with life...as long as there is no verbal, mental, physical, sexual or financial abuse, that is!  But, if there is any of that going on, you're not really co-existing, you are perpetrating, suffering, and/or enabling! Now, that's not good. But simply co-existing is not good enough, either. It's like treading water. You're surviving but not getting anywhere.

Co-operating sound like a good thing. Usually it is. It means we play nicely together...until we don't. It means we do what we have to do to get along...until we don't. It can even mean sharing to some folks.  But, remember, co-operation is a very broad spectrum, from passing the breakfast cereal to prisoners co-operating with their captors. That's all co-operation and it can produce winners and losers. One person gets someone to co-operate with them so that they can use them to get what they want. Sometimes, a person co-operates with another in the hopes of sharing the outcome, only to watch the other take the credit and throw them under the bus. You can feel badly used, when you really thought it would be a shared, positive experience.   Doesn't sound quite so appealing in those terms, does it?

So, now the big issue: Collaboration.  That's where healthy, long-term, mutually-supportive and satisfying relationships are found. For those reasons, collaboration is rarely found in the workplace although the word is bandied around freely enough. Entrepreneurial partnerships are only successful when true collaboration is engaged in. No one is looking for the credit, or the glory. It is a shared endeavor between equals and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Collaboration is about equality. Everyone is equal, considered, respected and treated equally. Everyone wins.  But, there is no personal winning, no individual winning/losing in collaboration. It's about the relationship, the experience, the shared outcome, and the process.

How about your relationship with your significant other?  Where is it based: co-existing, co-operating or collaborating?  If the answer is not collaboration, you know now what the goal could be for the kind of relationship you want most.

It takes learning about yourself first. Then,you need skills in communication, conflict-management, negotiation and collaboration. This leads to the possibility of collaboration. Unaware folks cannot collaborate. They are working from their egos.

Learning to have a collaborative relationship means putting the egos aside. Egos want to win. Egos do not understand collaboration. That where the big surrender comes in: leaving the egos at the door and working together for the best for all concerned. That "best" is by agreement. No one can determine what is best for another, unless you happen to be their parent. Even then, parents often make poor choices based on what is most convenient or expedient for the parent, it is not what is in the actual best interest of the child!

Collaboration, then, is the best possible way for both partners to feel seen, heard, respected, included and integral to the experience they are creating.

Understanding why and how to collaborate changes your relationship in fundamental ways. Get some relationship help to both be engaged, interested and involved in creating a relationship based on mutuality--the best kind of all!

If you would like more help, subscribe to my Tips for Relationships, and listen to my Podcasts. Start with an introductory session. Talk soon!

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