Ask Alignor

What should I do if a person refuses to collaborate with me?

This can be an extremely difficult and frustrating situation. Let’s face it, there are certain people who seem to thrive on conflict. They perceive every interaction as a competitive event in which they must win and you lose. The more you try to collaborate with such a person, the more frustrated you are likely to become! On the other hand, what if you are in a situation that you believe calls for collaboration? What should you do? First, try to figure out what the other person’s critical interests are. Second, look for creative ways to satisfy the other person’s interests (and your own) by collaborating. Still, this may not be sufficient to persuade the other person to collaborate, particularly if they have a bias against collaborating! This brings us to consequences. It may be necessary to communicate to the other person the consequences if they choose not to collaborate with you. If you do this, remain calm and try not to show your emotions. Share information about how the other person’s critical interests will be harmed if they do not collaborate with you. Finally, if the other person still refuses to collaborate, be prepared to implement the consequences you have communicated. Maybe the next time the other person has to deal with you, they will remember what happened before and decide that the costs of not collaborating with you are outweighed by the benefits of collaborating!