For Young People

Build Relationships:

How to work with others

Before launching into a project or campaign, it’s worth thinking through some key ingredients for working successfully with other people. It’s good to be mindful of these issues at all stages – when planning, doing, and reflecting.
Working with others involves:
  • agreeing a shared vision for what you want to achieve.
  • allowing each person the chance to contribute equally and valuing all contributions.
  • sharing decision-making, power and control.

When you work with others you’ll be working as a team. Teamwork skills can be learned through practice. You’ll want to:

  • Build relationships and trust – make time for people to get to know each other.
  • Respect each person’s contributions– make allowances for different ideas and try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Share responsibility – spread power and make sure everyone has meaningful roles that – something that they’re interested in that will make a real impact.
  • Communicate well – speak clearly and listen to others (see below).
Make a code of conduct

It can help to agree a code of conduct when you’re working in a team. This is a set of guidelines for how the group will work together. This will help avoid misunderstandings by outlining what sort of behaviour is expected from team members.

Start small and build up

You can develop teamwork skills by starting work together on a small task, and building up to larger activities. For example, you could start by putting together a poster advertising a project, before working out the budget.

Practice communication skills

Communicating is talking and listening. In fact, when you’re working with others, listening is probably more important than talking!

Some good communication skills are to:

Show you’re listening
  • Take notes (this will also help you to properly understand and respond to the speaker’s message).
  • Use suitable non-verbal body language, like nodding and smiling.
  • Ask questions, or repeat the speaker’s points, to check that you’ve understood them.
Stay positive
  • Keep your language upbeat and use suitable non-verbal body language, like nodding or smiling.
  • Even if you are disagreeing with someone, start by pointing out where you do agree.
  • Use ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ when responding to someone – e.g. instead of saying, “I like your idea but we don’t have time”, it’s more positive to say “I like your idea and we can try it when we have more time”.
Avoid making assumptions about how others think or feel
  • Own your own statements – start sentences with “I” or “my”, not “we” or “you”.
  • Change “know” to “imagine”– e.g. say “I imagine you are…” instead of “I know you are…”.
What you can do now

British Youth Council (BYC) (2011) Youth at the Table: What skills do I need to be great at governance?, BYC.

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