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I often notice I tend to butt heads with other people who have ostentatious dominant personalities. I've only started to notice this because I know I can collaborate better with others who aren't this way.

Here's a situation:

I was offered to team up with another colleague. This particular colleague, with whom I'm good friends, would often want to take the reins. He would often like to take over to do the particular task and would quickly forget that we were meant to be working together. I would interject to remind him and he would go back to working with me for a short time but then quickly go back to his own ways. The cycle would then occur again and we would both become frustrated with each other.

If we hadn't been good friends before, we probably would have had an argument.

So, my question. What are the best ways of working with others who tend to naturally like to dominate conversations. How does one coach them to be more collaborative?

  • So the issue is that this is off topic? I'm willing to either improve my question or i'll probably just delete this thread. – chrisjlee Jun 19 '14 at 22:11
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Start by asking the colleague for a conversation. Almost certainly he's not doing this to diss you, but rather because he's in the habit of getting things done and he's falling back on his strengths. So, this conversation isn't a confrontation.

Pair working is designed for purposes other than getting things done fast. It's designed for cross-training, and as a scheme for improving work-product quality earlier in the life cycle. So, for people used to getting things done efficiently, pair working calls for a big change in work style.

It calls for developing skills of communication and habits of trusting the pair partner. Developing those kinds of skills and habits is hard work. Don't get too annoyed if it doesn't go perfectly at first, but keep trying.

You could open the conversation by saying something like "this pair working seems to be frustrating for you. I know it's a challenge for me. How can we do it better?" That opens up a dialog about all kinds of things: what does "better" mean? what part of it is frustrating? how can we work together?

  • I like it. Especially if you can make the "goal" of the task to make collaboration work. Let the other guy "take control" of collaborating. – Wesley Long Jun 18 '14 at 1:10
  • +1 for "Pair working is designed for purposes other than getting things done fast". Exactly. – Peter M. Jun 18 '14 at 13:44

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