Come On, Come On, Lets Work Together


I think we’ve all been there before.  You hit that brick wall where two or more people refuse to budge and productivity or growth is at a standstill.

Whether it’s our business or personal relationships, it can be frustrating, stressful, and sometimes scary depending on the severity of the outcome.

Growing up with three brothers I can specifically recall numerous instances where we’d all have to work together, or we’d all lose out in some way.

One time in particular my older brother and I were arguing over some bubble gum after a little league baseball game.  Rather than come up with some good arguments as to why I should have some of his, I just took it from him.

Yes, I got socked in the face.

It wasn’t the wisest of decisions I’ve made in my life but I understand his reaction.  I’m not suggesting we go around clocking people in the heads, but rather we take a second to understand why we do what we do.

The majority of how the cooperation process unfolds relies on communication and can be understood as a part of the human element (Nierenberg 1968).

Since we’re human, it only makes sense to dive a littler deeper into the topic.


Modern Day Dangers


Sometimes cooperation can be a little hard to embrace or follow since we operate on fundemental levels of self-interest from time to time.

Our survival is dependent on the avoidance of pain and the pursuit (and repetition) of pleasure.

Though in these modern times we rarely have to flee from predators; our sources of pain have shifted to become more societal, intellectual, emotional, and rooted in our communication.

When we’re engaged with others verbally and emotionally, especially those we love or are in a relationship with, our limbic system (the part of the brain that’s plays a significant role in your self-preservation) can override our logic and reason.

There’s a shortcut in our circuitry that allows us to act before we think.  This is how good people who mean well, can sometimes say or act in ways that they may later regret.


Reasons For Engagement


One successful way to aid in avoiding those brick walls, or regrettable circumstances when trying to cooperate, is to reflect on and understand each others motives.  Here’s a simple way to look at it.


How concerned, attentive, and invested we are tells us our level of interest.

Our willingness to participate, engage, or be open to action is our degree of involvement.

Add the two and we create our tendency or level in which we decide, consider, or agree upon on a certain circumstance – our motive.


The Oldest Argument In The World


The toilet seat argument.  Men and women have been going back and forth on this for generations.

Leave it up?  Leave it down?  Who’s right here?

Rarely, if ever, does this argument have anything to do with toilets or toilet seat positions.  Instead, it’s basis stems from consideration, affection, and trust (and not wanting to fall into the toilet in the middle of the night).

See, it’s really a matter of self and courtesy rather than being about order or organization.


Paths To Problem Solving


I’m a big fan of Dr. Stephen Covey’s win-win terminology where 1+1= 3.  In other words:  You win.  I win.  We win.  When we hold this as the goal of our negotiations nobody loses.

Lets apply this to the toilet seat argument.

A win-win solution would be that if the man uses the bathroom last he leaves the toilet seat down, and if the woman uses it last, she puts the toilet seat up.

Or you could always install a urinal in the bathroom.  Problem solved  smile emoticon

Joking aside, the idea is that solutions are being made between the two of you where no-one has to sacrifice or compromise.  That just stirs up resentment and bitterness down the line.

Cooperation is all about mutual benefit.

Besides, if you’re arguing over something as trite as the toilet seat, toothpaste, or some other non life-threating situation, realize that you’ve got it fairly good compared to a lot of other couples out there.

Now, whether or not your particular outcome will be positive depends on a number of things.  A lot of cues and signals that take place between two individuals get neglected when we’re busy listening to the words.

Our expressions, tone, current attitudes and beliefs all play a part in creating our willingness to cooperate (or not).


It’s Not Always Going To Work Out


Remember that in order to cooperate you need the buy-in of another person (or a group).  We can try to cooperate all we want, but one vote casted in this type of dynamic will not be enough.

Such is life.

Embracing and realizing we have no control over someone else and external factors is a big step in the right direction.

You can kick and scream all you want, but the decision to cooperate comes from within and cannot be forced.

This doesn’t mean you give up on doing the right thing, or stop working together with others towards a common goal.  You still have the ability to choose the responsible and respectful decisions and actions.


What’s your take on this?  Do you find it easy or difficult to negotiate or cooperate?  How has it affected your business and personal relationships?  Will you be purchasing a urinal now?  Leave a comment below and let me know…


Think alike,



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27 thoughts on “Come On, Come On, Lets Work Together

  1. Maureen

    Sometimes it’s hard to see past myself when dealing with others. I let the emotions take over and get frustrated. I can definitely see myself working towards understanding my husband and family more PRIOR to coming to any conclusions. Thank you!

    1. Jason Anthony Post author

      Thanks for sharing, Maureen. It certainly helps a great deal when we recognize others being involved, too – and adjust our behavior and actions accordingly.

      Not only does it help the cooperation process, but it lifts a great burden and relieves huge amounts of stress we may otherwise be taking on unnecessarily.

  2. Chris Nadeau

    Nice stuff Jason! Cooperation is very important. However, what if we took a different look at the toilet argument…since it’s a fun argument 🙂

    What if you just didn’t let your Ego get in the way. If the seat is down and you are a guy, pick it up and do what you gotta do and not worry about it. Vice versa, if you are a women and the seat is up…don’t get your panties in a bunch (pardon the pun) 🙂 and put the seat down.

    A lot of disagreements stem from our egos. If we learned to just let go, then maybe the world would be a much better place and our bathroom breaks would be much more enjoyable. 🙂

    Just my egos two cents worth. 🙂

    1. Jason Anthony Post author

      Haha! I love it, Chris. Life would be much more relaxed and laid back if those little things could slip by with more ease. It’s all a matter of choice. Some choose to see it that way, others don’t.

    2. Jason Fonceca

      I think it’d be nice for humanity to take something that has been an age-old thorn-in-the-side and *solve it* by detecting from biology whether or not a guy or chick touches the Flush lever, and hydraulically lift or lower the lid accordingly.

      F*** who’s right, Co-Operate and SOLVE IT.

      Not only that, the brilliant engineer who does this and does it well, is basically guaranteed to make millions.

      That being said, I adore co-operation of ANY KIND. Rock on Jason!

  3. Paul Jun

    I agree with you on cooperation, and how both parties are required to understand and empathize for one another.

    But like you said, it won’t always work, and that’s the damn truth.

    Conflict of interest seems to be a factor that always intervened. Most people will become shy or turn their back when instant gratification is taken out of the equation, instead of working together, slowly creating that positive outcome.

    It’s a shame, really, but that’s life.

    1. Jason Anthony Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Paul. Some do live in that ‘I want it and I want it now,’ world, which plays a major role in recognizing the types of individuals we deal with.

  4. Rana Shahbaz

    Very interesting topic Jason.

    I think this is one of those things which gets so easy to practice when you understand it properly.

    But unfortunately, in my opinion miscommunication is one of the biggest cause of personal and business arguments. Because it is not easy to deal with “people”

  5. Jeanne Pi

    I see this more as an issue of persuasion rather than negotiation or cooperation. This is the lawyer in me talking.

    If I want you to put the toilet seat down, I rather persuade you to do it (in my cunning ways ;-)). This is not a negotiation. You will do as I say.

    Seriously, though, my preference is to get you to do what I want by persuading you that it’s the right thing to do. One of my favorite books is Robert Cialdini’s “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive”. And applying his principles to your toilet seat conundrum, this is how it would play out:

    Social Proof: All the considerate husbands in our circle put the seat down, why can’t you?

    Testimonials: Sally & Mike reported that their sex life has dramatically improved since Mike started putting the seat down.

    Reciprocity: I suffered through 12 hours of labor, the least you can do is put the toilet seat down.

    Mirroring: I put the seat up when I’m done, you should put the seat down when you’re done.

    Power of “Because”: I want you to put the seat back down because it shows me you care.

    Yes, all these seem very manipulative, but it works! It’s been scientifically proven! 🙂

    1. Jason Anthony Post author

      Spoken like a true attorney, Jeanne!

      Indeed, persuasion can be broken down very scientifically. Metacommunications, framing, re-framing, and variety of other factors (many of which you listed) come into play.

      Also, a great topic for an upcoming article.

  6. Alan Smith

    There’s power in numbers! When you have a group of people working toward a common goal with a common intrest, it’s amazing what can be accomplished. The Win-Win strategy is critical.

    Love the toilet seat analogy. I’m gonna have to suggest that win-win with my wife!

    1. Jason Anthony Post author

      Thanks, Alan! Yes, “let’s do it,” may be one of the most powerful phrases we can speak. Virtually anything can be accomplished if two or more people join together.

  7. Jack Price

    What about situations where the stakes are high and the motives of the parties may be at odds? Doesn’t win-win lead to compromises that can be detrimental to our interests? Sometimes the right thing may be to prevail over the other party.

    Jesus! I sound like a Republican.

    1. Jason Anthony Post author

      Thats where things can appear to be tricky, or when efforts seem fruitless, Jack. The problem with compromise or sacrifice is that it sets up a win-lose (one side gaining or benefiting only). Sometimes win-win may involve no cooperation or walking away.

      P.S. Hey, maybe if we can get both sides of the aisle to embrace the win-win, we can actually solve some issues and problems around here.

  8. Brandon

    Great post Jason!

    I think establishing common ground in an argument is crucial if effective cooperation is to be executed.

    The toilet seat argument indeed reflects a lot of conflicts within relationships. I used to be scolded by my girlfriend for not taking out the trash every wednesday night, but most of our biggest fights have come from little minor mishaps like those.

    We didn’t really understand why.

    I bought a really good DVD program from Brendon Burchard called, “High Performance Academy” a while back, and that program literally saved my relationship. Honest. And what you said, really took me back on what he taught in that program.

    We tend to care so much on the surface about the ‘content’ of the situation. For example “why couldn’t you just take out the trash!!”, the trash is the content. But what’s really being argued for is Respect. Acknowledgement. and Care.

    It really woke me up and changed my perception entirely on cooperating with others, especially in relationships.

    Thanks for a great post Jason.

    1. Jason Anthony Post author

      Thank you, Brandon. I am familiar with Brendon and his work, but I’ve yet to check out High Performance Academy. Will add it to my list, for sure. Glad the article resonated with you!

  9. Dick Foster

    Hi Jason — I totally agree with you and Stephen Covey’s win-win formula of 1+1= 3. I’ve worked with many different teams in my career. More work and higher quality work was produced by those groups with people who cooperate with each other as well as with others in the organization.

    As an entrepreneur, finding cooperative JV partners or co-authors to work with as “team-mates” can be very rewarding. Enhanced creativity. Sound business advice. Financial gain.

    BTW, the toilet set augment is not a global problem. Many places don’t have toilet seats…. or even toilets.

  10. Ryan Hanley

    I’m a firm believer that the toilet seat, including the toilet cover should always be down. There is no argument. Guys get to stand and the trade off for that is lifting the toilet seat…

    Great post!

    Ryan H.

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