The Important Role of Cooperation in a World of Solitary Geniuses

Over the past few decades,  understanding of the different approaches to work has changed radically. The simple fact of progress and development in varied spheres of human life is more than evident. However, in spite of all the achievements and growth, according to Ben Eubanks, there are still some unresolved issues on such basic matters as communication and cooperation. There are examples of people who are able to handle their work in a great way as individuals but who cannot cooperate with others; and when it comes to the important matter of teamwork, this causes a huge problem or even, in some cases, outright conflict.

From the psychological point of view, this phenomenon is quite normal and common since the roots of the pertinent misunderstandings or simply the resulting problematic situations lie in the uniqueness of each individual and in different cultures, attitudes, and approaches. (Read more Rob Farr) It may sound trivial, butthe proposition that two persons never think alike is true. Therefore, it is not uncommon that arguments, misunderstandings, and inconsistencies come into play.

Normally, when a problem arises, one side decides to tolerate or to agree with the other. This may be called negotiation, persuasion, or a version of ‘giving up’ for the sake of maintaining common peace. However, there are still some examples of people who stand their ground until the end, and once they face someone who is similarly wired, and who is ready to go to any length to prove his own rightness, all hope of tolerance and agreement vanishes. Moreover, the all-too-common outcome is anger, and sometimes even hatred, and a lasting silence that separates both sides. This way, people who are able to create something wonderful and extraordinary together give up even the idea of communication and cooperation.

The possible reason for the problem may lie in a subconscious unwillingness to accept the other individual’s idea as the better one, since that would simultaneously mean that yours is not that good. The fact of competitiveness also plays a significant role, and it is normal to have a wish tobe the one whom others listen to. However, the point I want to pay the most attention to is that egoism and the embedded idea of being the leader, can lead to the notion that others do not deserve to be heard at all.  The one that who has these convictions is not only unable to cooperate; such a person simply does not make room for any ideas other than his own. The main principle such people follow is “either my way or no way at all”, and they really mean it. They are literally ready to “break up” with everyone, including colleagues, friends, and even family members just for the reason that they are not like-minded or see a certain situation differently. The possibility of being alone does not seem to them to be as terrifying as accepting that they are wrong or that another point of view may be as viable as their own.

By this, I am not trying to state that it is entirelybad or morally wrong to have such an attitude. There are many examples of individuals who have moved in the direction of success as solitary operators, going their way alone and usually in opposition to commonly accepted ideas. Sometimes, it is this very fact that has made them great and remarkable. However, there is always another side of the coin which, in this situation, is the certainty of emptiness and broken relationships with people who could double or even triple the possibility of success/happiness/achievements/etc., but also fill in a missing piece of the puzzle. Moreover, even setting aside the idea of achieving success, human beings are social creatures.  (Stuart Duncan)The idea of living in a community is inherited from nature, and once we go against this basic rule, we gain one thing by losing another which may well be of greater value.

Taking everything into account, we may see that the value of the common and basic phenomenon of cooperation is too frequently underestimated. While trying to defend personal ideas, beliefs and principles, people often forget about this essential factor in successful relationships, work processes, and life in general. It is vital to understand that the ability to cooperate and communicate is the initial point, omitting which, one may lose much more than one could ever gain. Due to the fact that everyone tries to contribute in teamwork, it is the platform that is the most likely to be successful. Therefore, in some cases, the ability to cooperate may be more important than individual skills. As has been observed by Gordon Tredgold, “Individual effort is important, but it’s teamwork that makes the dream work.”

We live in a social world, and the process of not only communicating but also cooperating is inevitable. The only thing we need to understand is that unless people start to set aside their egos and allow room for other people’s thoughts and ideas, teamwork cannot be viable.

Photo: Shutterstock

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