January 16, 2018

How challenging can we be?

Three in discussionWhen it comes to stimulating change in other people, how challenging can we be?

How far and fast can we push?

How can we best tell when we need to back off?

Well, of course, it depends…

It depends on the nature and quality of our relationship: Is it a boss-subordinate relationship, or a coach-client relationship, or a peer-to-peer relationship? And how strong is that relationship? Is there enough “fuel in the tank” of trust and confidence to cope with the disturbance and get the best result?

It also depends on our presence: How grounded and resourceful do we seem? Are we coming from a place of personal authority? Or are we relying on our formal position?

There’s a sense of right timing too—a sense of things in motion. Maybe we need to bide our time for the big intervention. Maybe we need to wait for the “planets to align.” Patience may get us to the end result more quickly than haste.

But we do need to be challenging in some way in the meantime—and also supportive.

Otherwise what we’re doing won’t pass the “so what?” test.

Holding back completely doesn’t work.

Which do you notice first, what’s right or what’s wrong?

Gold in rockVic Conant, owner of Nightingale Conant Corporation, producer of audio learning programs and more, rarely goes in front of the microphone. One time he did, one of the most striking things he said was how some people would dismiss the learning from a wise source because “they didn’t like their voice” or some other ultimately irrelevant reason. It saddened him because in so doing, they missed out on learning which might well have enriched their lives.

And so it is for us…

If we want to find a reason to dismiss something, we’ll find one. Everything and everyone is fallible. What they say will have its weaknesses. Yet, we probably need the rest of what they have to offer and will be the poorer without it. The search for the perfect answer is futile. It doesn’t exist.

And there’s more…

If we look first for what’s wrong with something or someone, we’re kind of hard to be with.

Now here’s the thing…

Looking for the problem is part and parcel or the majority of professions, and it’s important, even vital. But relationship-building behavior warrants a shift, at least some of the time, to looking for what’s right with something or someone.

Two takeaways then…

1. Keep unnecessary information out of what you say and minimise the seeds you sow for a listener to dismiss you and your message.

2. Look for what’s right in something or someone and value that. See beyond the frailties to the gold inside.

Is trust an all or nothing thing?

Three people, two shaking handsOne idea leads to another. Quickly the project takes shape. It’s all quite unexpected and the end result is way beyond the initial starting point. Why? Because the individuals involved trust each other absolutely, not so much about money though that is important, but about sharing the risks of vulnerability and relying on the other’s support. And, by the way, they have never met face-to-face.

In contrast…

The parties cautiously suggest minor changes, protecting their position at all times, giving little away, trying various gambits, manipulating the numbers, always on their guard. The end result is an improvement on the starting point, but only just. And it’s slow. Being face-to-face doesn’t seem to help much.

In a workshop on “information overload”, participants seem to like the idea of deciding whether individual relationships are trusting or not, and dealing with them one way or another if they aren’t, because relationships without trust consume energy and generate excess information to be handled.

There’s no rocket science here, but I’ve been struck by what a huge difference absolute trust makes in a working relationship – not so much a factor of 2 as a factor of 10.

Of course…

Trust is one of these “be the change you want to see” things. If we want other people to be trustworthy, we need to be that way ourselves. We need to be on the high ground. No use trying to get other people to trust us, if we’re not trustworthy ourselves. (I’ve heard people say they don’t trust such-and-such a person, having just revealed how they’ve manipulated their own numbers. Funny that.)

But what about when it seems unclear?

Can you have degrees of trust? Can you half trust someone (or a business)? Or a quarter, or three-quarters?

Here’s an angle…

On-line, I believe it’s an absolute, more than off-line. On line, anything less than 100% trust is no trust at all. So our attitude to trust is increasingly important.

What do you think?

Relief from information overload

Exhausted computer userThe email Inbox just gets bigger. The paper in-tray still stacks up dauntingly too. And that’s not to mention all the other channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Skype text chat, SMS messages on mobile/cell phones, and StumbleUpon to mention only some. Oh I nearly forgot Google+. And then there’s Facebook’s LinkedIn “me too”, otherwise known as Branchout. Ever feel you’re caught in the middle of a communication arms race?

So what’s to do?

The net effect of all this communication could be the well-known phrase “information overload,” but does that description really help us? After all, the information exists whether we chose to look at it or not. How much attention do we pay to a piece of low value information that happens to be on our computer screen versus a piece of high value information that isn’t in front of us at all?

Perhaps we need to take charge of our attention and decide where to direct our interest.

Of course…

We can learn various practical techniques for processing information quickly, and they’re very valuable too. Will we ever outrun the flood though?

There’s another way…

Information flow is a manifestation of a relationship of some kind. Take that relationship to a deeper, more trusting, more profound level and we won’t need to handle so much data. The details become unimportant and fall into place much more easily – or can be set aside altogether. Head in the opposite direction away from trust, and you’ll need every information-handling trick you can find.

How to take a relationship deeper to a more profound level?

Find out what truly matters to the other person or organization and cherish that sincerely.

Too simple? Maybe not.

Post-election developments highlight importance of getting on with people

Whatever the final outcome of all the negotiations, some skill in relating well to other people and some care to do this over time has put David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the position where they seem to have the best chance of forming a stable government, whereas those that have taken less care over their relationships are leaving the stage. There are lessons in that for us all.

I was very struck by Nick Robinson saying that David Cameron and Nick Clegg get on better with each other than either gets on with Gordon Brown. I suspect it’s all going to turn on that. Relationships are that significant. If Gordon Brown had taken more care over these things, the outcome might have been different.

650 copies of my book Relationships Made Easy to go to Westminster?