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4 Reasons Why Your "Opponent" May Be Your Most Effective Teammate

collaboration de-escalation

I don't know about you, but I find that working against people doesn't really get me where I want to go. It takes time, energy, and focus away from what I want to achieve, and it also doesn't help others help me.

Think about it for a second. If someone appears to you to be a pain, to where you want to just do something to get them out of your hair and off your back, could that be a good person to work with toward solving their problem? I mean wouldn't it be better to have them on your team, to collaborate, than to meet them in a dark alley? (Okay, probably on the phone or in your face, but you get the point.)

And then there's this...Can you really solve their problem without them? No. You need them to tell you what the problem is and what they will accept; you need them to sign off. And if you wind up in some of the situations I have been in, you may also find that you need them to negotiate with you and recognize that what they really want/need is different than what they asked for.

If neither of those is convincing, think about this: You don't want to solve it without them. If you were to solve it without them, they might heckle you the whole time, distracting you, and making it more difficult. And if something weren't done to their satisfaction they would still be able to point that finger at you. The problem with that is you may not know who is listening when they do or what they will do with that. But if the person is involved, they have responsibility as well, and can't really point a finger as convincingly and you would have a response if they did.

It's also possible that collaborating will give you the feedback and perspective that allows both of you to find a creative solution that is better than what either of you would have come up with alone.

Here's the catch (or at least one of them): In order for them to work with you, you have to first convince them you are on their side. (Wait for it...) And before you can do that, you have to be able to go there yourself. That's right! You can't take anyone to a place you have never been or at least aren't willing to go with them, and that means you have to accept the idea that they are on your side.

We could make this difficult, but it would be a whole lot easier if you simply (but not necessarily easily) assume that if you have someone or something in the vicinity, even if they first appear to be against you, they can help. Then look at it from different perspectives for reasons to back up the assumption. Utilization. It's a beautiful thing. And by the way, when it comes to de-escalation, that's not hard to justify - They certainly aren't enjoying the experience either and want it solved as much as you do. Also, giving them a job to do can help focus them on more constructive pursuits.

When I became a hostage under credible threat, guess who I teamed up with to resolve it safely? (Hint: Nobody called police, and I had managed to separate him and me from the rest of the people in the area when it all started.) When you're desperate, you use what and who you have to work with. And, believe it or not, it helps if the people you collaborate with have a different perspective, and are also already up to speed and hooked.

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