How to build a culture of collaborative communication inside your team

Meeples communicating as a team

You’re typing out “Per my last email…” and taking deep breaths. Meanwhile, your teammate is searching through files, trying to find the most recent version of a document for a meeting that starts in three minutes. Then you jump into a team standup. Guess what? Task assignments from last week were unclear, so now the project is delayed. Everywhere you look, something is falling through the cracks, and the team is just as frustrated as you are. This is why you need to foster a culture of collaborative communication for your team.

Collaborative communication means seamlessly exchanging information and discussing topics as a team in order to achieve a common goal. While you’d think that would be an obvious standard for teams, the majority of employees report that it isn’t. Sixty-three percent of employees in one study said they have wanted to quit a job due to poor communication.

Collaborative communication should be the standard for all teams because it promotes transparency and encourages employees to share ideas openly. When you use collaboration tools and proven communication tactics to build up your team’s collaboration skills, everyone wins. Here’s how to help your employees work efficiently and feel good about their contributions.

Keep collaboration and communication in one place

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Creating an effective and collaborative workflow isn’t possible if your team is referencing different documents, working in separate tools, or constantly fighting through communication silos. The first step to promoting a culture of collaborative communication is setting standards for where collaboration should take place.

Designate a single source of truth

Creating and maintaining a central space for all documents, knowledge, and conversation is crucial. Without it, your team will be forced to search their inboxes, sift through files, and frantically message each other requesting status updates.

When you have a single source of truth, everyone knows where to look for the details of any given project. When you store all knowledge in one space, it encourages collaboration because everyone can see each other’s contributions. Plus, when everyone has access to the same information, you can dive right into a discussion instead of scrambling to find documents, past meeting notes, and associated task assignments.

Collaborate on each agenda

Meetings bring people together, so why not channel that collaborative energy into the agenda as well? Create and share agendas at least 1-2 days before meetings, so everyone has a chance to contribute. Doing so encourages team members to collaborate early and often, which helps you avoid long, pointless calls that get derailed by tangents.

Edit documents together in real-time

When your team members can co-edit documents in real-time, collaborative communication comes naturally. In Confluence, everyone can see highlighted changes and review the version history, fostering greater transparency and increasing alignment. Team members can leave inline comments, like each other’s contributions, or assign tasks by tagging coworkers in an action item.

Project positivity

Chat bubbles

As cheesy as it may sound, thinking positively and projecting that emotion can actually change the way brains react to situations. No one wants to collaborate with their notoriously negative coworker, but projecting positivity can go a long way in promoting collaborative communication.

Authors Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman discuss the effect of both positive and negative framing in their book, Words Can Change Your Brain. “The longer you concentrate on positive words, the more [they] begin to affect other areas of the brain,” says Newberg and Waldman, “functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with.”

We’re not saying that adding a “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” sign to your office will improve collaboration, but positive written communication certainly could. Documenting communication in Confluence encourages everyone to think about how they approach a conversation.

For example, you might see a graphic and immediately think, “Wow, what a mess,” but you (hopefully) wouldn’t put such a harsh and unhelpful critique in a shared document. Instead, you might say, “I like the colors, but this graphic has a lot of design elements overlapping which makes it difficult to read the text. Could we leave more clean space?” Now the designer has constructive feedback, and she probably has a more positive perception of you as a coworker, too.

Even small, supportive gestures can go a long way. In Confluence, teammates can like each other’s pages much like a social media app. Bring the feeling of a perfect selfie racking up likes to work — like your coworkers Confluence pages to show your appreciation for and recognition of their contributions.

Collaborative communication only works if everyone feels confident sharing their opinions. All those shared documents, collaborative agendas, and public conversations will be much more effective if you embrace positivity.

Adopt active listening for asynchronous communication

Multiple message bubbles

Active listening is more than just maintaining eye contact while someone speaks or leaving a thumbs-up emoji on every comment. It means truly focusing on what someone is saying – not contemplating what you’ll contribute when they finish talking.

One study revealed that speakers paired with good listeners “felt less anxious, more self-aware, and reported higher clarity about their attitudes on the topics” compared to those paired with distracted listeners. Better listening skills lead to clearer, more collaborative conversations.

Model active listening for your team and encourage others to use active listening tactics. Ask open-ended questions and pay attention to the answers. Show your team that their voices matter by documenting insights in a shared space in Confluence. And remember, listening means gathering input from all collaborators before introducing new topics or ideas. Don’t bring up your incredible new app feature idea for Q2 when the team is still nailing down features for Q1. Instead, jot your idea down in Confluence notes or a brainstorming page so you can come back to it later.

Active listening applies to asynchronous communication as well, and it’s especially important for distributed teams. Resist the temptation to skim through meeting notes or scroll past comments. Practice asynchronous active listening by reading through all information before leaving your own comments or opening up new discussions. With Confluence, you can use inline editing or leave comments to ask clarifying questions. Phrases such as “To be clear...” or “Am I understanding this correctly?” show others that you’re really thinking about what they said.

Promote collaborative communication with Confluence

Remember, the first step in building a culture of collaborative communication is to give people a central place to collaborate. If your team is always switching between messaging apps, file sharing tools, and scrambling to find the information they need, you’ll never stop writing and reading “per my last email...”

With Confluence, asynchronous and synchronous communication is a breeze. Keep all your conversations, documents, and tasks in one place so your company can focus on teamwork instead of suffering through project management challenges. Start collaborating more effectively with Confluence.

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