|-4 fundamental principles that will help you have better relationships in your career and life.|
2020 upended a lot of things for us. Social distancing resulted in remote work, different work or no work, restricted travel, recreation and freedom. A bitter divide over politics has separated us ideologically. However, one thing has not changed. Relationships are still the foundation of professional and personal success. Since they seem more fragile now than ever, it might be the right time to sharpen your skills for better relationships in the workplace and home.
I will share four key principles that will guide you in creating stronger and more productive relationships. How you relate to others is vital to getting what you want, making things happen and creating connections that support you. The basis for these principles is the idea that healthy relationships are reciprocal. They apply to relationships with your boss, peers, employees, customers as well as your family and friends.
Whether you are a senior leader, a middle manager or a budding entrepreneur, you can learn to manage your relationships with other people for your success and happiness as well as theirs.
Relationships are complicated.
As people, we are multi-layered. We show up for each other with an array of assumptions, beliefs, fears and desires. We unwittingly expect the other person to know who we are, what we want and how to treat us. Unfortunately, people can’t read our minds and probably wouldn’t be too happy with us if they could. At the same, good relationships are mutual. We get what we give. If we are only concerned about ourselves, the relationship is lopsided and won’t be sustainable for very long.
To create robust relationships requires some structure to maintain the boundaries that ensure transparency and balance. Healthy relationships do not spontaneously occur because of the right mix of chemistry and character. Have you ever had the experience of liking everyone on your work team, only to have everything fall apart at the first sign of conflict? Or tried to be direct with a good friend only to have them get upset with your “honesty”?
There are four aspects to think about when assessing your current relationships or considering a new one. Professional and personal relationships may have different criteria for victory in each area, but attention to each one is vital to creating success at work and home.
Agree to expectations and meeting them as best you can.
At work, expectations may be a formal document that outlines duties and responsibilities. However, if you are a leader or manager, it behooves you to find out what your team expects of you. In personal relationships, you may share these expectations less formally but they are no less critical.
Expectations include how you want others to treat you. The character of a relationship impacts the quality of the outcomes you receive. You may not receive the tone and tenor you seek all the time, but it is easier to discuss what is not working when the expectations have been previously set.
Either way, let people meet your expectations in a way that works for them and vice versa. Even if it seems outdated, time-consuming or inefficient, as long as it meets the mutually agreed expectations, let it be. Allow people and request that they allow you the freedom to work and live you please, not as they prefer.
Respect for the individual.
At work and home, no one likes to be lumped into a group. You and others want to be seen and heard for who you are. Although we may identify with certain groups and have similar histories, we are still individual people with our own ideas, needs, and desires.
It takes more time and effort to address people as individuals instead of making assumptions about them based on the attributes of a certain group they identify with. (“all men, all women, all employees, all bosses, all kids, all spouses, etc. are the same.”) However, respecting the individual creates a level of trust in the relationship that is worth it. When someone responds to what is unique about you as an individual, you feel valued. As a result, you will go out of your way to help them get what they need or want.
Focus on strengths and talents, work around weaknesses.
For two or more people to benefit the most from a relationship, the ideal goal is to bring out the best in the other. Leaders and managers can acknowledge and capitalize on what people are skilled at and naturally good at for a win-win result of good performance and increased confidence.
In any relationship, it makes sense to look for the talents of the other. We can be a positive mirror for each other, reflecting the best that we see. At the same time, weaknesses need to be acknowledged if they get in the way of expectations. At work, this could mean offering training, support or perhaps a different role.
In our personal relationships, it’s the same. A person’s flaws can be accepted but not ignored if they impact you negatively. When you address shortcomings honestly and with compassion, you can collaborate on making the necessary improvements to keep the relationship sound.
When you are responsible for your thoughts, feelings and actions, you bring accountability to the relationship. You resist blaming others for what you think, say or do. Accountability creates a personal sense of agency that permits you to feel in control of your life and have faith in your ability to handle a broad range of tasks and situations. When you recognize that other people are similarly responsible for their thoughts, feelings, and actions, you are both free to be straightforward and honest when necessary.
Accountability also breeds trust, one of the most important traits that people want from their leaders. Trust strengthens relationships by allowing people to work, live and relate to each other safely and with a sense of belonging. It’s the glue that holds together a society, an organization, a family and a circle of friends.
One of the biggest challenges we have on the road to professional achievement or personal happiness is managing our relationships for the outcomes we want. Nothing big can get done alone. Nothing worthwhile is enjoyed by ourselves. Relationships are the bedrock of all success. You can ensure that yours are healthy and robust when you pay attention to expectations, respect, strengths and accountability.
Work Your Inner Genius. Take a few moments to understand how your relationships are helping or hurting the achievement of your goals.
1. What professional or personal relationships enhance your success, happiness, or wellbeing? How do they enhance them?
2. Which ones detract from your success, happiness or wellbeing? How do they detract?
3. Which of the four principles can you focus on to turn a detracting relationship into an enhancing one?