February 24, 2018

Knowledge-sharing as a social process

Three senior managers talkingWe often need to transfer knowledge from one person to another.

And yet, how effectively do we really do that?

Quite often our approach is to turn the knowledge into information on paper (or perhaps Powerpoint slides), usually in objective, dispassionate, businesslike terms—all very professional and proper.

The trouble is…

We’ve converted something we actually hold in direct sensory form—images, sounds, and other sensory experience—the stuff of real expertise, into something sterile—accurate, no doubt—but sterile.

And that’s hard to assimilate. In fact, we’ve created a barrier: We’ve interrupted the social connection through which information can flow rapidly and effectively.

Better sometimes to share knowledge messily, socially, and, yes, “unprofessionally.”

Worth pondering sometimes whether the paperwork is getting in the way.

Might be better just to talk.

Why relationship skills?

Networking groupSometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves of our reasons for doing something.


Why focus on relationship skills, whether in a professional or a personal context?

After all, talking about the subject can seem a bit “preachy” if we’re not careful.

But there is a whole other way of looking at this…

Relating to other people is, at times, one of the most demanding and yet potentially enriching things we do. Doing a better job of that can unlock all sorts of benefits. It’s where the leverage is.

So the subject seems worthy of a little attention and focus—perhaps more than a little.

And perhaps a systematic approach.

There’s a bit more to this than communication skills: Getting one’s point across in the moment isn’t the same as successfully managing a relationship over time, which requires a little more sophistication.

I think so anyway. Don’t you?

You need to not know

Three senior managers talkingOr rather, you need to know you don’t know. And you need your team to know you don’t know and want their help.

How else can they know they need to look out for missing information?

They need to know that you will welcome them saying you might have overlooked something, made an error, or not noticed something important – or at least not bite their head off when they tell you.

That’s the difference between the professional and the amateur: The professional doesn’t let the issue land in their ego.

This principle is rather obvious skippering a yacht, for example. Get it wrong and you usually get immediate and probably uncomfortable feedback from your environment. You need the crew to tell you things before you make a mistake, not after.

Otherwise you might hit the rocks.

Running an organisation, the principle is even more true, just a bit less obvious.

What could an engineer possibly bring to relationship skills?

Group discussing plansIn three words—system and structure—though that’s perhaps not for everyone.

My apparent shift from engineering to relationships seems to fascinate. The typical introduction goes like this: “He is an engineer by profession but/however/though/and (delete according to taste) he now works on relationship skills.”

But it’s maybe not so strange—in the end, it’s all about people in any profession.

Engineers look to understand things at a fundamental level, learn practical and insightful skills, and use them as much as possible.

Every week, I write a little piece specifically on this topic and post it here, though all the time, I’m drawing on an underlying system for relationships drawn from a number of sources. Here it is for you now…

1. Attention to other people first
2. A resourceful attitude through a set of principles
3. Self-control and calmness
4. Being mindful of visual, auditory and kinesthetic preferences
5. Understanding and adapting to personality traits
6. Connecting with people quickly, easily and reliably
7. Working quickly and effectively with values
8. Seeing patterns in language
9. Self-awareness
10. Clarity about what we want
11. Reconciling our inner tensions
12. Human connection and love

Now your first reaction might be that’s all common sense.

It’s not.

Every one of these topics is a skill area in itself and an opportunity to develop expertise and insight we generally won’t have by accident, though depending on how you come to this subject, some will be familiar.

The thing is…

If you want to hone your ability to relate to other people professionally and personally—and why on earth wouldn’t you—and see more clearly what’s going on, these are the headings you need. Skip any one of these, and something is liable to trip you up. Learning them in depth, on the other hand, is life-changing.

I’ve set all this out in detail in my book, which is available here http://amzn.to/ouLZgs (US) or http://amzn.to/vAaZMl (UK). Quite honestly, a steal for the amount of learning available. I hope you’ll treat it as a resource.

Or you could ask me to speak at your event or guest on your program.