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“Trust is the glue in relationships and organizations.” — Stephen Covey

A friend of mine recently shared his struggles in working with one of his colleagues. Each conversation seemed to take a great deal of energy and effort to find workable solutions.

I asked my friend, “Are you spending as much time, listening to your colleague or are you busy pushing your own ideas onto your colleague?”

When colleagues struggle to communicate and work together, the results can be a disaster. Communicating and listening could be part of the problem.

Take a chapter out of Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Make Friends and Influence People to cultivate relationships with a wide variety of constituents.

Use the following A-List to make better connections with others:

“The first step toward change is awareness.” – Nathaniel Branden

Awareness: Relationships take nurturing and attention. Conversations initiate change. It’s a continuous learning process to be aware of how people process and use information. Notice and observe how comments impact a conversation. By tailoring language, tone, and tenor we can bridge different ideas to solutions.

Ask: Conversations can be taken for granted only to find that our approach has isolated us from the truth. Colleagues stop telling us the full story as they know how we will react.

We get busy multi-tasking; information gets truncated to the critical facts and a crucial piece of information is left out. Our genuine desire to help on an issue turns into a monologue of “telling” others our views, without giving them the opportunity to comment. In fact, comments may sound more like criticism than helpful solutions.

Set expectations to mutually work together and solicit and give specific, positive, and actionable feedback.

Approach: In the rush to get things done our quick responses can be lose the emotional element. The short texts and email conversations miss the relational context. This becomes the norm and the human element gets shaped out of the discussions.

Bring the human element back into conversations especially when exchanging sensitive information or ideas that can be misinterpreted via text or email. Approach interactions so that others can process the information and properly get engaged in the discussions. Take care to fill in the missing pieces that can be relevant in making sound decisions.

Accountability: Take responsibility for the conversation and ensuring all ideas are surfaced. Some people may like the personal conversation woven within a discussion. Others appreciate the extra time spent going through the data they spend days compiling. Still others may like the time to brainstorm ideas while others get comfortable when they can contribute to creating the process.

And above all else, take the lead to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.

Adapt: One style of communicating doesn’t fit all. Knowing how others think and process information makes it easier to communicate information in ways people can hear and apply the information.

Pick up clues from others and adapt communications accordingly. Anticipate colleague’s needs and making adjustments in delivery can be the key to advancing the conversation.

Act: The pulls on your time can get in the way of meaningful discussions. Actions speak louder than words.

For example, you promised to get back in touch with a colleague after a terrific interaction, but find there’s no time in your schedule for the next few months. And if your executive assistant tries to protect your schedule, the message gets out that you may not be approachable.

Spend time investing in key relationships and certainly don’t take those relationships for granted. There can be a tendency for colleagues to believe “no news is good news” when actually no news leaves action to chance.

The personal touch definitely makes a difference. Stand out by sending handwritten notes of praise and insights to associates.