Team of Two

Get-to-know, Review

Accepting feedback, Collaboration, Conflict resolution, Issue resolution, Issue analysis, Providing feedback, Team – work

Active listening, Communication, Empathy, Evaluation

Up to 30 min, Up to 60 min, 60-120 min

6-15 persons, 16 – 30 persons, More than 30 persons




Much of the business of an organization takes place between pairs of people. These interactions can be positive and developing or frustrating and destructive. You can improve them using simple methods, providing people are willing to listen to each other.

“Team of two” will work between secretaries and managers, managers and directors, consultants and clients or engineers working on a job together. It will even work between life partners.

It does not work when the relationship is so broken down that either party would rather have a battle than do anything to make it better.

Necessary tools (what you need)

  • Pick a videoconferencing tool.


  1. Each person writes down:
  2. How they think they could help the other person,
  3. How they think the other person could help them.

The hypothetical example of a manager and secretary will make this clearer.

Manager’s list:

Things I, manager, could do to help you

  • Let you know where I am going when I leave the office.
  • Stop giving long urgent tasks after 4pm.

Things you, secretary, could do to help me:

  • Tell me what you need from me so you can give me the best help.
  • Help me be more organized in my work.

Secretaries’ list:

Things I, secretary, could do to help you:

  • Talk to other secretaries on site to see if they have good admin. ideas we could use.
  • Filter your emails, deal with routine ones.

Things you, manager, could do to help me:

  • Listen to me when I am overloaded.
  • Help me understand your priories.

The people decide what to do.

A person may say:

  • “Of course I will do as you ask”. This would be sensible if the request is easy and gives an immediate benefit.
  • “I can’t do that because…” . The request might violate your values, by being (say) unethical, or it might be politically unacceptable, or take too much time.
  • “I would be prepared to meet your request if you would help me with this one of mine”. The request might demand work or a change of attitude. You would both win eventually.


It helps people to follow through with their decisions if they record and preferably display their agreements.

Play the negotiation straight. If you use tactics or manipulation, then people will not use the method again. They will also become suspicious of all the management techniques you use.

Make your requests small, clear and doable. It is more useful to ask someone to say “Hello” in the morning than to “Be more considerate”.

Tips & Tricks

  • This tool will not work if the relationship has so broken down that the parties do not want to make improvements.
  • Please play with these ideas and use them in any way that makes sense to you. If you stick to giving and receiving practical help and treating both parties fairly it will work well, if the people want to make their relationship work.
  • Aim for equity in the negotiations. If people “give in” to every demand they will feel exploited later. People who want something for themselves for everything they give will lose co-operation. People will think they are mean.
  • Give the process enough time. The expectations take time to clarify. This is often the first time people have talked directly about how they work together.

The exercise is successfully completed when? Conclusion?