Collaboration Gone Wrong: Key Tips in Addressing and Preventing Conflicts

Two heads sure are better than one, but harmony will always be second to none.

Collaboration is a great way for freelance web designers to accomplish great things with less effort and time wasted. It has opened avenues for sharing ideas, mixing and matching creative juices and most of all, increasing earnings.

With collaboration, one web designer can work freelance without the burden of being alone. Work can be improved, new methods can be learned and more energy and money is saved.

All of these perks truly make collaboration an interesting plot to plow. More and more designers are shifting from working by their lonesome selves to pairing or grouping with other great minds.

Truly, two (or more) heads are better than one.

But is it really? What happens when collaboration has gone wrong? What are the ways of preventing conflicts?

Image from: Depositphotos

With two heads now thinking about one project, it sometimes goes into some unexpected road bumps. In any human relationship, collaboration teams included, there are times that quarrels come in one’s way. At times, there will be an immense amount of shouting, bickering and clashing of ideas.

Though it may not sound really well but in a proper amount and frequency, this is actually a good sign. Conflicts are often symptoms of a relationship that discusses problems, shares ideas and opens ideals. The shouting, bickering and clashing of ideas are what forges the relationship into a far more stronger state.

However, like I said, these should come in exact dosages. When conflicts arise, whether these are healthy or not, the collaborators should discuss and resolve conflicts as soon as possible. Else, the collaboration might turn into competition.

But before it turns into a Game of Throne-ish bloodbath, try to do a few tips from 1WD:

Elaborate Before You Collaborate

Before mixing creative juices make sure to discuss things that might spark-up arguments. This is a prevention scheme to avoid harsh and possibly relationship-breaking fights.

There are a few things that commonly start collaborative arguments. Make sure to discuss them first and be clear about your terms.

Image from: Depositphotos

Here are some of the things you might want to talk about

  • Money - They say that green is really the color of the devil. I don’t believe that. Most freelance web design collaborations fail because the parties involved don’t talk about money. One party feels like more should be paid to that particular person and the other believes the same thing. Because these parties clash, no one will benefit.
  • Workload – As freelance collaborators, you should be aware of how much work will you both put in your projects and directly relate it to how much one would be paid. Most times, if one is burdened with greater work than the other, arguments arise. So better talk about who gets more work and consequently, more pay.
  • Schedule – As you talk with other freelancers, who probably have other projects that take their time, you should be aware of their schedules.
    • Plan when the both of you can work.
    • Set reasonable deadlines.
    • Give some extra time for troubleshooting.
  • Communication Means – Discuss when you will talk about things. Talk about how you and your collaborators shall assign time to properly talk about problems, updates and more.
  • Who leads and who heeds? – If you are working with others, there will be big chance that one of you should take the lead. Talk about who will have the steering wheel so that no one will be confused of his tasks.

Stay Calm, Show Your Palm

Don’t clench your fists too soon and never jump into arguments. Relax, breathe in and breathe out. Remember that you are both professionals and violence isn’t really reflecting professionalism.


Image from: Depositphotos

When conflicts arise, talk about it. Dig deep on the problems, and dissect it. Solve problems in the most peaceful means and you’ll see how it affects your relationship.

Try following these:

  1. Stay away from each other for some time.
  2. When your heads are both cooled off, start talking.
  3. Never interrupt when the other collaborator is speaking.
  4. Open your palms, never punch someone. Violence is never an option.

When an Argument Rolls, Re-state Your Goals

At times, there are circumstances that tend you to drive you away from your goals. When one of you (or your collaborators) start going in an argument, you should all both restate your goals. Doing this will somehow help to resolve your conflicts.fighting

Image from: Depositphotos

Restating your goals can remind you why you collaborated in the first place. Hopefully, upon remembering what you initially dreamed of will make you calm down, get the heck back to work.

Remember, a website won’t be finished if you don’t stop arguing.

When You Listen, Arguments Lessen

You have two ears and only one mouth for a great reason: you need to listen more than you speak. In any relationship, including collaboration projects, maintaining and preserving means of communication is the pivotal factor for the quality of work you will put in.


Image from: Depositphotos

The more you listen to your colleague(s), the more you will understand their concerns and eliminate miscommunication.

Just remember a few things:

  • Always let the others finish what they say before you open your mouth.
  • Don’t just hear. Listen.
  • Remember that to listen is to learn and to learn is to listen.
  • Don’t listen while you craft your reply to whoever you are talking to.
  • Concentrate on the person speaking.
  • Try not to judge the speaker.

React on the Act

One of the best things that I have learned when I was still writing for our college paper is that you should always criticize the act. Not the person.

When in collaboration-related arguments, you should always remember to criticize the act. Doing this will save your lucky ass in offending your co-collaborator because you’re not directly attacking the person. And this, my friend, is the mark of a genuine professional freelancer.


Image from: Depositphotos

Now, if you will insult, then, you might be entering into something that you’ll regret. Insulting, stereotyping and putting people down is never a likable character one should have.

For this, I recommend you to:

  • Be mindful of one’s race, religion, gender and sexual preference.
  • Avoid talking about the aforementioned topics when you are mad.
  • Think of the mistake your partner did and look at it professionally. The line between the act and the person is pretty evident. Never say, “You’re an idiot and you have no place in the world.” Instead, be nice and say, “I didn’t like what you did right here.”

Now tell me, which sounds better?

If You Want to Point Out a Glitch, Always Try to Sandwich

Let me introduce you to the Sandwich Method. This method is a great way to assess projects, people and basically, anything you can possibly assess.


Image from: Depositphotos

The philosophy behind this method is pretty simple: when assessing, you start with a positive note, followed by a criticism, and then end positively. That way, your criticisms will always sound like encouragements. You will also sound more suggestive than imposive.

Try it!

To End Before You Wend

To conclude this rhymefest, I hope you had a great time reading. Let me just leave you with one simple thought: You are collaborating to make your work easier. Now, if you team up with other people and then start ruining their projects, then don’t consider collaborating.

Also, always be prepared for arguments. But this time, follow the tips we have given you and try to make your collaboration projects more fruitful and productive.

What other tips can you recommend? Can you at least make it rhyme?


Rudolph Musngi

Rudolph is a geek. He loves reading: books, blogs and even nutrition facts found at the back of products. He loves to read interesting internet stuff. Since joining 1stwebdesigner last year, Rudolph has written several articles that concerns Typography, Wordpress, Freelance Lifehacks, Graphic Design and Showcase of Beautiful Web Designs. He also write poems, movie reviews and he puts them in his blog together with rants and some daily life updates.

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