We are constantly hearing about cooperation, but have you actually thought about what it really means and why it is so important? Cooperation is the process by which the components of a system work together to achieve a mutual goal. Cooperation, therefore, is individual components or segments that may appear to be selfish and independent, but work together to create a highly complex, greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts system.
With this understanding, let's explore why cooperation is so important, as we move toward achieving our goals, personal or professional.
Goals typically are dependent on change of some type, and successful change seldom happens in a vacuum. As we move toward our goals, we must often work together with others. When we learn how to cooperate, we are much more likely to get the help that allows us to change and grow successfully.
If we try to change without cooperation, we may find ourselves stuck or even failing. However, if we learn how to cooperate with others it can mean the difference between being supported or being sabotaged. The ability to cooperate, therefore, is an important skill to have.
How do we get others to cooperate with us? Well, remember that we reap what we sow, so look for opportunities to help others. Listen to their problems and concerns, then freely offer assistance. Along the same lines, stay open to suggestions and support from others when they are offered. You don't have to wait for suggestions and support to be offered. Ask for what you want and need, and that means knowing specifically what you want and from whom.
Also be willing to negotiate. Don’t make demands. Instead, compromise and trade favors. We need to be realistic about what we expect from others. It’s a good strategy to seek help, advice and counsel from more than one person. An effective approach is to ask more people to do less, rather than expecting a few people to do more. By using this method, you are more likely to get what you need.
When cooperation works as it should, everybody gains something, nobody loses and you will move more effectively toward achieving your goals.
You must also make sure that those who added to your success receive appropriate credit and recognition for their input. It’s only right that they share in your success, but the sharing of credit breeds subsequent support and stimulates an environment of openness and mutual cooperation.
Alexander Graham Bell, the eminent scientist and innovator said, “Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself.”