Collaboration Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: Top Resume Skills

Learn more about what hard skills and soft skills to put on a resume so it stands out from the others.

If you work with other people, good collaboration skills are a must. They help you cooperate well with your team, creating a more efficient and welcoming workplace. Collaboration skills are also necessary for managerial roles to lead a team effectively, so building these skills can aid in career advancement. In this article, we look at what collaboration skills are with examples, the benefits of having them, and how to improve them if you don't.

What is collaboration?

Collaboration means working well with someone to complete a task or develop ideas together. Collaboration can occur in a number of settings, such as at school, in your personal life, or at work. Most workplaces require successful collaboration to meet your professional goals as well as the company's.

To collaborate successfully at work, you should have strong interpersonal and communication skills to build strong working relationships with your colleagues. This creates a more productive and efficient workplace as collaborating allows you to complete tasks and projects together. Collaboration is also a great way to listen to different perspectives or ideas, giving you the opportunity to learn something you may not have thought of on your own.

The benefits of collaboration

There are plenty of benefits to collaboration at work, including the following:

  • Teaching and learning: Working closely with your colleagues is a great learning and teaching opportunity. Certain members of your team may be better at tasks that you struggle with. They can help you develop the necessary skills to excel and vice versa. So, collaborating is a great motivator for improving your skill set.

  • Solving problems: When complex problems arise at work, it can be tough to think of a solution on your own. Collaborating with your team and listening to everyone's ideas is a great way to solve problems efficiently. Different people can use their areas of expertise to brainstorm solutions that will help you reach your team's goals.

  • Boosts morale: If you aren't motivated or have low morale at work, you may find it harder to succeed. Thankfully, collaboration can help boost morale. It allows you to trust your colleagues and rely on them to help you complete upcoming tasks and projects. Finishing them successfully as a team boosts morale and encourages you to keep working hard.

  • Increasing efficiency: There's no debate that multiple people working well together on a project will finish it quicker than just one person working on it. So, collaboration helps increase efficiency at work, making it easier for you to meet deadlines.

Related: Promoting Collaboration in the Workplace: All You Need to Know

Types of collaboration skills

Successful collaboration can only happen if you have a variety of skills. Here are some of the different types of collaboration skills you will need to work well with other people:

Communication skills

Good communication skills are one of the most important for effective collaboration. If you don't listen to your colleagues or express your ideas, you won't be able to work well together. Communication skills can be broken down further into four categories:

  • Active listening: Communication is not just about speaking, it's about listening to understand other peoples' ideas and perspectives. Active listening means you're concentrating on what the other person is saying. It is important to give someone your full attention, not only so you know how to respond, but to show them you respect their point of view.

  • Written communication: If you work remotely, a lot of your communication will be written. This is true even if you are in an office as you will spend a lot of time e-mailing your colleagues, customers, or other departments. It can be hard to tell the tone of someone's message through writing, so having good written communication is important to get your point across and collaborate successfully.

  • Verbal communication: Good verbal communication skills are necessary for most workplaces. You will be attending meetings, talking on the phone, or with your colleagues constantly. Sharing your ideas or disagreeing with others respectfully will help you collaborate more efficiently.

  • Nonverbal communication: Nonverbal communication consists of your body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and gestures. You could be saying one thing while your nonverbal communication is saying another. So, when collaborating with team members, it's important to focus both on what you're saying and how you're saying it.

Related: Four Types of Communication (With Examples)

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills include communication skills, but the broader meaning refers to your ability to interact with people and build strong relationships with them. This is a necessary skill for collaborating as you must have a trusting, professional relationship to work closely with other people and rely on them. Here are some examples of interpersonal skills:

  • Positivity: Being positive is a great way to build relationships with people. It shows them you have a good attitude and are willing to help your team reach its goals. Positivity also contributes to a more pleasant work environment, in turn, making other people more positive.

  • Teamwork: Teamwork is a vital interpersonal skill. It's another way to describe collaboration skills as being able to work well with a team means you can successfully collaborate with them.

  • Respect: With many workplaces employing people with different experiences and from various backgrounds, respect is vital. You must respect your colleagues by listening to them, learning more about their background and experience, and implementing their ideas.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to be in control of how you identify and express your emotions. It also refers to your ability to recognize and react to other peoples' emotions. This is a necessary skill for collaborating as it will help you act professionally and respectfully, regardless of how you or your team members are feeling.

We all have bad days, but often still need to go to work. Having emotional intelligence will ensure you don't lash out at your team members, potentially harming your working relationship and ability to collaborate. Emotional intelligence will also help you realize when your colleague is having a bad day, so you don't get angry at them for not contributing as much that day.

Examples of collaboration skills at work

Let's take a look at some examples of collaboration skills in action:

  • Brainstorming ideas or solutions to a problem with your team

  • Keeping an open line of communication between management and employees

  • Coming to a consensus about common goals and solutions

  • Giving credit to team members for their contributions

  • Building teams based on each member's strengths

  • Delegating tasks to meet timelines

  • Setting up regular meetings online or in-person to discuss progress or ask questions

How to use your collaboration skills at work

Here are a few ways to use your collaboration skills to help improve them and contribute to an efficient workplace:

1. Communicate your intentions

Open communication is one of the most important aspects of collaborating. Start every project by communicating your intentions. This lets your teammates know your ideas, projected timeline, and contributions for the project. It will encourage them to do the same as well. If you aren't able to meet a specific deadline or finish a task, you must communicate this as well.

2. Actively listen

Work on your listening skills by actively listening to everyone you talk to in your professional and personal life. Give them your full attention and respond respectfully when appropriate. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about your colleagues and their areas of expertise.

3. Learn to compromise

You won't always agree with your teammates' ideas and vice versa so you need to learn to compromise. Brainstorm ways to meet in the middle or find a solution everyone is happy with. Often, talking through ideas will help you come to a conclusion.

4. Solve problems without assigning blame

Everyone makes mistakes, so an important part of collaborating is overcoming these problems together. Don't try to blame anyone as it can demotivate people. Instead, focus your energy on a solution. This will help you work more efficiently and build stronger relationships.

5. Celebrate your successes together

One of the best ways to motivate yourself and your team members is to celebrate your successes. It can be as small as completing a project or as big as winning awards or being recognized by management. Thank your colleagues for their contributions and let them know you appreciate their work, and they are sure to do the same. Celebrating is a great way to encourage future success.

6. Set clear goals and objectives

Setting SMART goals is essential to successful collaboration. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based so every member of the team knows what they're striving for. Having realistic goals also ensures you can complete them, motivating you and your team to keep setting and reaching goals. Determining specific goals ahead of time will also help you and your team delegate tasks to work more efficiently.

Explore more articles