Written By Rachael Moller
Have you ever wondered why some people you work with just don’t do things the way you do? It’s frustrating isn’t it? What if I told you that there is a very good reason for it. That there is a way to work cohesively with just about anyone, if you give it a red hot go.
I knew that would grab you! And the kicker is that doing things a little differently will have a positive impact on your career, your reputation and even your happiness. It’s all about the art of effective communication. I know we all think we are all effective communicators, but I am here to tell you that may not be the case. To be truly effective there are a few things we need to consider….
A new approach
If what you are doing isn’t working, you need a new approach. I know you have heard this before but “the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result”. So why do we persist? The answer is comfort. When you do things the same way its is because you are working within your comfort zone. It feels safe and it’s what you know, so you keep going back to what comes naturally and what essentially is a habit. This would be fine if it were getting you results. But if it is not working you need a new approach…….. which might mean being uncomfortable. Don’t worry, the more you change things up, the more comfortable it will be.
So now that we are looking on the bright side, let’s look at what we need to change. I don’t know about you but as a kid my parents used to say “Treat other people as you want them to treat you” and so that’s what I did. This was a great strategy for quite some time but then I got to the workplace and it didn’t work. How could that be? Why doesn’t everyone else see things the way I do? Well the answer is quite simple – because we are all different.
At first this scared me because if we’re not the same, then how on earth will we relate. But as experience shows, embracing our differences is vital in establishing effective working relationships.
Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. So, to truly understand others, first you need to understand yourself. Why do you communicate the way you do? What are your workplace behaviours? What frustrates you and inhibits achieving your objectives? What are the optimum conditions for you to thrive? Knowing the answers to these questions rather than just operating on auto pilot will give you the opportunity to work with intention, maximise your strengths and develop your growth areas.
So, get to know yourself, grow your self-awareness and actually take the time to do this without judgement. Not easy I know. And it’s not just a one-off exercise. You grow, evolve and change in many moments throughout your life, so understanding self is a life long lesson.
The great Stephen Covey said, “Strength lies in our differences not our similarities” and the key to building strength is to truly understand those you work with. Take the time to get to know people. I’m not saying you have to be best buds with everyone on your team but if you can identify and understand the diverse styles of the people you interact with, this will ultimately improve your own effectiveness. When we understand how people operate and the intention that drives this, we see them differently. Rather than being blindly frustrated, we can see things as they actually are, and this provides the clues of how we then need to adapt. So, imagine having a plan instead of being annoyed by a colleague. Annoyance is a road block while the plan is a way to move forward. Let’s do that. It sounds so much more exciting!
Adapting for results
Once your knowledge of yourself is fine tuned and your understanding of others is heightened, you can manage workplace interactions and foster working relationships up, down and across your organisation.
You can then communicate, interact and collaborate with them in ways that achieve best results. Where they feel comfortable to share their perspectives, views and opinions without conflict. Where you can meet and have safe conversations and healthy debate that lead to robust decisions and solid outcomes, all while strengthening your relationship. And the thing about building effective workplace relationships is that it makes work all the more enjoyable which actually impacts your own results.
I’d like to finish with a Chinese proverb, “When the winds of change blows, some people build walls, others build windmills”. What will you build?