Ask Alignor

How can I tell when I should collaborate or refuse to collaborate with another person?

There is no easy way to figure out when you should collaborate and when you should compete. As a general matter, unless you have a strong reason to believe the other person will compete with you, it is usually a good idea to start off trying to collaborate. If the other person does not reciprocate, you might consider switching to a competitive approach in order to protect yourself or teach the other person a lesson. When you are evaluating whether to collaborate or compete with another person, you should consider how your own interests will be affected by your choice of collaborating or competing. In addition, you should think about the impact on the other person’s interests. This analysis should help you determine your optimal strategy. Most important, you should re-evaluate your choices continuously so that you do not fall into patterns of unhealthy (and perhaps unsustainable) interactions.