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Don’t hate . . . collaborate

I grew up in a family of three girls. Although I was fanatical about sports, I was not a sports fan. I was a doer, not a viewer. But now, living in New England with my husband and two boys, being a sports fan is not optional. So, as the Patriots fan I’ve become, I watched MVP Julian Edelman’s reply to the question, “What do you say to the haters?” His answer was simple, “Don’t hate, collaborate.”

That may not mean much to a Rams fan, or lovers of any other NFL team tired of Brady and Belichick’s reign,  but is apropos to everyone suffering the divisiveness of the current political landscape. It also lends fresh perspective to those promoting diversity.

Don’t Hate

The emotional reaction of hatred often stems from betrayal, feeling threatened, ideological differences, envy, or jealousy. Moving beyond hate requires a transformation of thinking. To erase pre-conceptions and build a fresh mindset, we need new information and new experiences, and new reactions.  The only way to do this is to stop talking and start listening.


As a former trainer in negotiation and conflict resolution, I learned that to get beyond positional, black and white resolutions, we need to dig down to discover underlying interests, concerns and motivations. We need to ask each other “why?” and understand one another at a deeper level.

Choose among several techniques to draw out perspectives and opinions:

  • Just chat – sit down and talk. If you ever feel like the conversation is going in circles and everyone is repeating what they’ve already said, try this: make the other person’s point for them. This proves that you understand their viewpoint, and can simultaneously see a different approach.
  • Play ball – write out important discussion topics on a beachball, or get a Thumball with pre-printed discussion prompts.
  • Photo DecksUse photographic imagery to draw out feelings, thoughts, and reactions.
  • Write it out – share ideas on sticky notes that can be arranged, resorted, and prioritized.


With renewed respect and understanding, you can have different conversations–conversations that enhance trust, solve problems, and deepen relationships. Moreover, you can work together collaboratively.


A mediator, consultant, or third party facilitator can be helpful for unbiased leadership. However, with the right tools and frameworks, working together can be easy and perhaps even pleasant.  Consultant-type tools can help you make meetings productive, effective, and stress-free:

    • Road to There – discuss where you are, where you’re going, and the roadblocks to getting “There.”
    • Vision Tree – use the metaphor of a tree to discover the roots that ground you, the systems that support you (trunk), and the fruit you hope to bear.
  • Iceberg – talk about the unspoken ideas and assumptions that lie below the surface, but still affect work processes, environment, and relationships.
  • Agile / Design Thinking – apply the construct of design thinking to foster innovation (Empathize; Define; Ideate; Prototype; Test)


When we stop hating and start collaborating, so many other great things can happen–we can communicate, fascinate, accommodate, commiserate, innovate, and so much more!


Read more on Collaboration

Communication and Listening Exercises

Powerful Beginnings and Endings


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