Why is Collaboration So Difficult?

We all give lip service to the importance of collaboration and most of us commit

to being collaborative in our work. Yet, collaboration often breaks down and evolves into conflict and withdrawal to individual work.  What makes collaboration

so difficult even when we believe in its importance and value?


Here are some things that seem to contribute to the challenges of collaboration:


  • Style differences and our difficulty in working with others who are different
  • Our need to be right and get our way
  • Time that is required to work through differing perspectives
  • Preferences for working as individuals and creating our own way
  • Power differentials
  • Lack of true dialogue for understanding
  • Need to act rather than take time to dialogue and think
  • Past baggage in relationships that are difficult to resolve
  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of interest in learning from others


What else might you add to the list? Which one of these might be a source

of difficulty for you in a situation you are in? How might you be efficacious in

responding to break this pattern?