Jonathan's Perspective  

Sep 25

'Four Relationship Builders'

Below are four ways to help you work through problems with others.  While there is no silver bullet for all situations and different personalities may require different approaches, these are some well-proven techniques to use in resolving problems: 

First, address the issue in a timely manner.  A wise businessman shared this advice with me: "Business is like being married.  When you really don't want to talk about something, that is when you need to. When you get that feeling, go ahead and address the problem."  Fine wines improve with age - problems do not!  Don't give into that queasy feeling.  Address the issue immediately before it gets bigger.

Second, step to the person's side.  William Ury, Director of the Global Negotiation Center at Harvard University, encourages people not to position themselves in opposition to each other but shoulder-to-shoulder solving the problem together.  When we step alongside the other person we create a favorable atmosphere and defuse anger, fear, hostility and suspicion.  The more you can agree with their points and acknowledge their competence, the more the other person will open up to solutions that will suit both of you.

Third, develop your emotional quotient (EQ).  Daniel Goleman, who developed the concept of EQ, discovered that the best leaders have a high EQ.  They understand the emotions of those they lead.  They use their EQ to affirm, direct vision and encourage.  They ask probing questions of those around them to gather their thoughts and feelings before making a decision or setting a goal.

Fourth, you can practice reflective listening.  It is also called active listening, as it requires you to be highly engaged with the other person.  Reflective listening is the attempt to hear what the other person is actually saying and to understand what they mean.  Clarifying questions are used to flesh out parts of what they said.  Then you can ask them if you understand what they mean by summarizing what they said.  They will usually let you know very quickly when you didn't get it.  The key is to seek and understand what the other person is communicating, rather than assuming their motives and thoughts and then dominating the conversation.  We will never be able to solve problems that we do not understand.  It is well worth the time to practice reflective listening.

These four relationship builders have helped me at work and at home.  I hope they will help you as well.

Pressing into 'life that is truly life',

Jonathan

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