The Art of Building Relationships You Need to Succeed in Your Career


By Mat Apodaca


The power of building relationships cannot be overstated. While the concept “building relationships” sounds like a fancy business buzzword, there’s really a lot of substance behind it.

Many people do fine going about their business keeping their head down. Sometimes they poke their head out from their cubicle like a prairie dog when there’s free cake to be had but other than that, they do their own thing. They only worry about interacting with the people that they need to on a day to day basis.

Unfortunately, these people are shortchanging their own career. In this article, we will look at the art of building relationships you need to succeed in your career.

Remember, you are the CEO of your own career. How far you go towards achieving the goals you want for yourself in your career is squarely on your shoulders. Utilize the art of building relationships to help power success in your career.

Let’s take a look at why building relationships is so important to your career and how to go about doing it.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. How Building Relationships Helps Your Career
  2. Who to Build Relationships With

Internally At Work
Outside Of Work

3. The Art of Building Relationships
Conclusion

4. More Resources Related to Work Communication

5. How Building Relationships Helps Your Career

Building relationships is often cited as one of the key drivers for building a successful career.

It is absolutely mission critical. Building relationships helps your career in so many ways. When you make an effort to build relationships with your clients, it shows that you actually care about them as customers.

Creating positive and supportive relationships with your fellow coworkers will help you perform your job better. When they see that you are an important member of the team, they will want to work with you and come to look forward to interacting with you.

As you develop meaningful dialogue with your boss and deepen the relationship, he or she will see that they can trust you. They see you as someone who does what they say they are going to do and that builds trust. Building the trust and relationship with your boss can help you immensely in your career.

As we will see in this article shortly, there are some key people you should build relationships outside of work that can be hugely beneficial to you as well. Everywhere you look, you will see the value of creating strong relationships to propel your career.

Who to Build Relationships With

Ideally, you want to build relationships both inside and outside your company. I realize this might sound a bit strange, so let me explain:

The people inside your company can really help with the day to day aspects of your job and career. These include your boss or bosses, your fellow coworkers, and I’m going to include vendors you might work with.

Outside of your company, there are other groups of people you should work to build great relationships with. These include your customers, mentors, and key folks in your industry.

Let’s take a deeper look at these groups:

Internally At Work

Your Boss

This should immediate pop into your mind. It is super important to build a good relationship with your boss or bosses.

Many people have one boss. I’ve worked in several organizations where I really had numerous bosses I had to develop relationships with. In any event, this is a critical relationship to build.

Make sure you have ongoing, open communication with your boss. Stay clear on your objectives and priorities. Know what areas create the biggest impact for your supervisor (and therefore you).

Be aligned on strategic initiatives and how you can help shape and influence that whenever possible. This all becomes possible when you and your boss(es) are on the same page through a good working relationship.

Your Associates

This is pretty much a no brainer as well. You can most likely see the benefit of solid working relationships with those people you interact with at work on a regular basis.

It’s a wonderful thing to know someone you work with has your back and you have theirs as you navigate your career and work product. These is a direct result of creating and building great relationships with your associates.

Keep open dialogue and a create a sense of teamwork and fun whenever possible.

Your Customers

This could really be included in either in or out of work. Some of us work with internal customers, some of us with external customers.

If you are client facing, then you have to be able to build trustful, advisor-like relationships with them. You want them to see you as a great resource in whatever capacity they are paying you or your company. That is your value to them. This comes from creating those trusting and meaningful relationships.

If your customers are inside your company, it’s super important to create great working relationships with them as well. Being in recruiting I have internal customers (hiring managers) and external customers (candidates).

Outside Of Work

Mentors

You can have mentors both inside and outside of work. Best case scenario is to have mentors at both.

I like to stay in touch with my favorite bosses of all time. I continue to get advice and direction from them from time to time. They are from previous jobs so they are really outside of my day to day work.

I also have several mentors who do similar work to what I do, but are more senior and therefore more experienced and have some great wisdom. It takes work to maintain these relationships but it is well worth it.

Key Industry Folks

I work in recruiting. There are people at other companies who oversee huge recruiting machines. I like to have strong relationships with some of these folks that I get along well with. That way we are able to offer up advice to each other from time to time. If I am facing a new challenge, I can pick up the phone and call for some input.

There are also some people I’ve developed relationships with over the years who have expertise in a specific area. They are awesome when I need some advice in their area of expertise. Conversely, I can help them from time to time with my expertise.

Vendor Partners

Not all of us work with vendors in our day to day job responsibilities. If you do, it’s well worth building strong relationships with your most important vendor partners.

Not all vendors are great. The ones that are truly invested in helping your company succeed are worth the time to create meaningful relationships with.

In one fashion or another, we are all a vendor to someone. We all have customers. Recognize who helps you succeed with your customers and treat them accordingly.

The Art of Building Relationships

Building relationships is part science and part art. To be an effective relationship builder, you’ve got to genuinely be interested in others. Here are some strategies that can help you build relationships to help you in your career.

We’ve looked at the key groups of people that you should build relationships with. Now let’s take a look at some specific relationship building strategies and ideas.

1. Be Appreciative

One of the foundations of building relationships is being appreciative of everyone you partner with at work. This includes your clients, your boss or bosses, and your fellow coworkers.

Take the time to say thank and be genuinely appreciative of what they have done for you. It might be in the form of incoming revenue from a client, or could be the tips and guidance your boss provides to you. It might be the report or presentation your fellow associate helped you with that helped you land the new client.

Always be appreciative of how others interact with and help you during the course of business.

2. Spend Your Time Wisely

It’s not uncommon for me to try to run in too many differing directions. When I do this, I am not very effective at any of them. When I focus on the most important items, I am much more effective.

This is suggested with relationships as well. Identify the most meaningful relationships you should create and maintain for both your career and others.

Remember, this isn’t a one-sided deal. You have to be a person that someone wants to invest time in to create a solid relationship. Speaking of which…

3. Give as Much as You Get

This is really true in all relationships and it certainly applies here. You have to be able to provide equal value in the relationship.

Maybe you’re a mentor to someone. To your boss, you provide a great work product and that’s some very good value for your boss. You provide insight and value to your clients and customers — whether they are internal or external.

Make sure you take the time and spend the energy to give as much as you get, if not more.

4. Be Social

Work relationships don’t just get created and developed at work. Many times, this happens outside of the building you work in. It can happen over lunch, coffee, and adult beverage, at the gym, and many other places.

Take the time to invite key folks you want to build relationships to lunch or coffee or whatever works. You don’t always have to talk about work topics. Some of the best working relationships get the foundation built outside of the office without talking about work stuff at all.

5. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s one thing to ask a coworker to lunch to start building a relationship. It’s quite another to pick up the phone and call someone you’ve never met because you think they could be a key relationship.

Force yourself to get out of your comfort zone and develop some relationships with people you don’t know.

I have reached out to quite a few people that recruit for the same kind of people in the same industry as me but work at competitors. Unsurprisingly, most of them have ignored me. With several that haven’t ignored me, we’ve built meaningful, referral type relationships.

6. Help Others Succeed

There is probably no better way at building relationships you need to succeed in your career than helping others succeed. This one thing is so powerful it will win you instant relationships. Think about the last time someone you worked with went out of their way to help you in a critical work moment.

I’ve recently joined a new company. I am working on recruiting someone who I believe will be a huge success at the company I am now at. The person that runs the Western half of the US offered to help me. His exact email words were “Let me know if there is anything I can do. I’m more than happy to do what I can to help land this individual”. You can bet he made an instant fan in me.

Conclusion

The ability to build relationships has the power to help you incredibly in your career. There is no one magic technique that creates these partnerships but rather a variety of methods and approaches.

Through the course of this article, we’ve looked at the art of building relationship you need to succeed in your career. Take what works for you and apply it liberally to give your career a significant lift.

Remember, the success you achieve in your career is entirely up to you. When you put the time and energy into building strong work related relationships, you give yourself a huge career boost.

More Resources Related to Work Communication

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com


This article was first published at Lifehack


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5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding


By Dmitry Dragilev


The phrases “personal branding” and “networking skills” make a lot of people cringe. It’s often associated with being sleazy and ingenuine, with the main goal being wriggling your way into the “inner circle” for your own selfish reasons.

Leaving aside the nasty reputation, networking—if it’s based on building genuine relationships—is one of the most powerful tools for personal brands.

First of all, hanging out with the crowd in your industry is important for being able to learn from the best—knowledge sharing is one of the most powerful ways for everyone to succeed.

Networking is also a great way to get yourself associated and on the radar with other professionals—not just because, but for establishing useful partnerships and cooperation.

There is definitely a subtle art behind successful and authentic networking. Besides the work that goes into figuring out your motives, finding your approach, and creating compelling conversations, a lot of hard effort needs to go into maintaining the relationships you form too.

Today, we’re going to share five tips for polishing your public relationships skills, and maintaining your connections.

1. Figure Out Your “Why?”

Like we said in the intro, the word “networking” tends to have a bad reputation, so you need to make sure that your motives for wanting to network don’t align with that nasty label.

Before you start taking any other steps, you need to understand what networking really means—especially for you personally.

What’s your ultimate goal with trying to make connections with other people in your industry or area? Why are you doing it?

Are you mainly trying to initiate knowledge sharing and learning from others? Are you looking to maybe start cooperating or working with these people? Are you looking for business partners or investors?

You need to have a very clear understanding of why you want to start getting into networking, rather “just because” or “it’d be fun”. This will help you pick your strategies and make sure you have the right approach.

Even though, like we said, networking needs to be based on genuinely, there are still different initial “pitches” you need to make—even just to start a conversation. You don’t have to sell yourself by any means, but knowing what you’re after will help you set the right tone from the get go.

Just trying to make a light connection with someone whose work you admire is very different from starting a conversation with someone you hope will invest in your business.

So, before you jump into any action, figure out your “why” and think about how that would set the tone for your communication.

2. Do Your Research

Once you’ve figured out what your end goal or main interests are for getting into the networking world, it’s time to really do your homework about the people or companies you’d like to get in touch with.

You might think that you know a lot about them already, but there’s most likely things you haven’t discovered yet.

Take your time and make sure you’re really familiar with everything they’ve done. Go into detail too—the more specifics you know about them and their work, the easier it will be for you to connect.

You might even find things that you have in common that you didn’t know about. For example, check out their social media profiles. Maybe they tweet about cats as much as you do!

Even if there really isn’t a single thing you’ve missed in your previous knowledge about them, you can still refresh your memory. Read their content again, listen to their podcast, look at their designs—whatever area they’re in.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on them for a longer time, you’ll be looking at their work with a fresh set of eyes, and might even have a different attitude towards it.

Having intimate knowledge about the people who you’re going to attempt to connect with will give you a lot of topics to discuss, ask about, and connect over.

3. Be Human

There’s a good chance that the people you want to network with already have a crowd circling around them, trying to do the same.

This might not be the case, but even then, make sure to keep your human-ness in any contact.

Don’t put on a mask, or try to come across as something or someone you’re not. Even if you’re not dealing with people who have thousands of others trying to connect with them, most “regular” people can still tell when you’re being fake.

Try to not treat anyone like a business contact from the get go. It usually comes across as cold, impersonal, and rigid. Even worse, it sends an immediate signal that you’re up to no good and in it only for your own causes.

Networking shouldn’t be about using people, it should be about helping each other and sharing experiences and knowledge.

Rather than just handing off a business card, a much better way to go is to make a light, friend-like connection, literally. When you’re making your contact, think about how you would approach a potential friend!

Don’t start any of your conversations with “so how about that giant funding your company got yesterday?”, start with “I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you’re big on surfing—mind giving me some tips?”—you get the gist.

As your conversations go further, you’ll find the time to talk about work. Everything at its own, appropriate time!

And who knows, you might actually end up being best buddies.

4. Know Your Boundaries

This should go without saying, but know your limits.

Sometimes, connections just don’t happen, no matter how much you’ve worked on your skills or thought it’ll be the most amazing networking experience you’ll ever have.

If it’s not happening, it’s not happening, and you need to let it go. Nobody likes pushy people. If you find out your interests aren’t aligned, the conversation isn’t flowing, or the connection just isn’t there, don’t pursue it. Walk away. Don’t be rude about it, but just walk away.

Think of it kind of like dating, some dates just don’t work out. Not that anyone did anything wrong, but the alignment just isn’t there, and trying to push it isn’t beneficial to either side.

To avoid wasting your time as well as other people’s, it’s best to exit conversations that aren’t a good match sooner rather than later. This will give you the opportunity to go and connect with someone you’re a great fit with.

5. Keep In Touch

We all know how hard it is to keep in touch with people who aren’t immediate family or very close friends.

Time goes by, we’re all busy, past contact is forgotten; it happens.

The key to keeping relationships alive is keeping the conversation going. You’ve connected with people that you admire and want to learn from, right?

So, keep an eye on what they do, what they say, and what they’re up to. Start a conversation when they do something awesome—write a good post, launch a product, whatever it is that you’re excited about on their behalf.

Remind yourself every now and then. Reply to their tweet, leave a comment on their content, send them a postcard—whatever. Don’t be worried about being annoying.

Here’s what Alex Turnbull, CEO of Groove, has to say about following up in his article about how networking can help you succeed in life and business:[1]

“A lot of people are hesitant to follow up because they think they’re being annoying. But consider this: what if you’re not being annoying? What if you’re actually being helpful?”

So make sure you include your experiences as well, something that could help them. Work on making your relationships meaningful ones, with a lot of mutual learning involved.

Did they just announce they’re writing a book? Send an email telling them about the awesome editing tool you just found.

If you know you tend to be forgetful when it comes to keeping relationships, make a physical note to do so. Have a weekly planner? Jot down “shoot John an email” or “recommend this app to Susan.”

Mastering Personal Branding Is an Art and a Science

Even though it has the unfortunate reputation, building public relationships doesn’t have to be evil or ingenuine.

As long as you understand that successful networking is built on creating real, genuine, mutual relationships, it can be an incredible tool for learning, connecting, knowledge sharing, and business opportunities if you want them.

Take your time, figure out your end goal of why you want to start getting around more, make sure you’re connecting on the right foundations, and keep the conversation going—even if you have to teach yourself to do it.

Even if you don’t 100% get to your end goal, deliberate networking is still a surefire way to create great relationships that can be helpful when you least expect it!

More Resources About Networking & Work Communication


Featured photo credit: Antenna via unsplash.com


Reference
[1] ^ Groove: How to Use Networking to Succeed in Business and Life


This article was first published at Lifehack


12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover


By Jennifer R. Farmer


It has been said that you do not get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate for. I have seen this play out time and time again – in my own life and in the lives of others. Chances are, you have too. Have you ever been in an employment situation where you were hired and thought you had an okay deal only to realize a colleague received a great deal?

Regardless of how skilled you are, chances are you can benefit from tips that position you to be a better negotiator. For example, if you are in talks to purchase a home and are wrangling among a seller, the seller’s agent and your own agent, you could benefit from tools to help you remain calm under pressure and assert your wishes.

If you are preparing to negotiate for a new position or promotion, and are questioning whether you are asking for too little, too much or just enough, here are at least 12 points on how to negotiate better so you can keep in mind prior to heading into negotiations.

1. Understand That Negotiations Are Inherently Stressful, and That’s Ok

Walking into a negotiation is not like walking into an informal lunch with a friend. Negotiations are inherently stressful, and you should let yourself off the hook for feeling anxious about these adrenaline-pumping discussions.

Minda Harts, the founder of The Memo, shared,

“Negotiations are a high-stakes game because everything is on the line. It is natural to feel anxiety. Whether you are negotiating pay, equity or whatever, it is important to prepare for high-stakes conversations. You can do this by conducting research, role-playing and getting clear on your worth.”

2. Know Your Worth

Before you ever sit down at a bargaining or negotiating table, you should have a clear sense of your worth. Understand what you do better than others and understand how your work will improve the organization or company to which you belong or are seeking to join.

At the most fundamental level, you should have a good sense of how your skills will add value to the company. When you have a sense of your worth, you have a starting point or frame of reference in negotiations. You will also be better prepared to answer the “what’s your salary requirement?” question.

Harts agreed,

“If you go into a negotiation not knowing your worth, you’ll look to others to define your worth and they may not value your contribution appropriately. Understanding your skills and expertise, and knowing your worth allows you to position yourself from a place or power.”

3. Understand Your Emotion and the Emotions of Others

In the workplace, women have been conditioned to hide or abandon emotion. Men and women alike are told emotion has no place in negotiations. This isn’t entirely true. It doesn’t serve us well to avoid or discard emotion.

We should understand our emotions as well as the emotions of others. When you understand your emotions and work to be emotionally intelligent, you anticipate what others are feeling and respond accordingly.

When you consciously try to understand the emotions of others, you allow that insight to assist you, enabling you to pivot and adjust during the actual negotiation. Failing to understand emotions may mean you are unable to develop creative approaches for unanticipated challenges.

Researchers Kimberlyn Leary, Julianna Pillemer and Michael Wheeler observed in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article:[1]

“The truth is that your passions matter in real-life deal making and dispute resolution. You need to understand, channel, and learn from your emotions in order to adapt to the situation at hand and engage others successfully. That means you need to be emotionally prepared to negotiate—even when you expect the process to go smoothly.”

4. Conduct Tons of Research
You cannot begin to know what is fair and what is appropriate without research.

If you are negotiating for a new position or promotion, you’ll want to know your predecessor’s benefits package. You’ll want to try to determine what the last person who interviewed and perhaps was offered the position received. You will want to review a company’s 990 to determine what its highest earners make and what those people do. You will want to know what the market offers for positions like the one to which you are applying and what you can be replaced for.

If you are negotiating for a new home, you will want to know what the home appraises for, whether there are liens against the property, what upgrades the seller has made to the home and what other homes on the block have sold for. You will also want to know whether there have been foreclosures in the area so you will know how those foreclosures impact your property value.

If you are in labor negotiations, there is a whole set of other information (such as profits, information from 990s, public complaints, long-term goals, etc.) you need to know before you can begin to know what is fair and acceptable for both the company and the union.

The bottom line is that walking into a negotiation without information is a recipe for disaster and dissatisfaction.

5. Understand What Motivates the Other Party

For some people, status matters. For others, money and resources matter. For others still, autonomy and flexibility are motivators.

Regardless of which side of the negotiating table you sit on, you need to understand what motivates the people with whom you are negotiating. You cannot assess what you will need to give or make appropriate offers without an understanding of key motivators.

6. Don’t Wait for Perfection

One of the things I loved about Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code was their take on the dangers of perfection. They assert that often women wait for perfection before submitting projects or asking for a raise or promotion. They point out that we underestimate our own work.

I see this in my own career, and I imagine it rings true for others as well. The key takeaway for me from their book was that perfection isn’t insurance for progress. You don’t have to be perfect to begin negotiations over what you want.

If you wait for perfection, you may never seek out that raise, promotion or reassignment.

7. Say If Afraid

If you are someone who shuns conflict and the very thought of negotiating unnerves you, you should know that you can negotiate while afraid.

You do not have to be courageous to negotiate. You can ask for what you want, even when it scares you.

I remember desperately wanting a pay increase but was too afraid to ask for it. I was fearful I would introduce the topic at the wrong time; I was fearful my boss would scoff when I made my request; and most importantly, I was afraid she would say no.

My boss was an incredibly busy lawyer, and I knew every moment of her time was valuable. However, I knew that my silence and unwillingness to ask for what I wanted would gnaw at me.

I resolved that I was just going to ask and blurted out my request during a check-in. She said no. I thought about my presentation and realized that I should have made my request in a more formal manner. I should have put it in writing and outlined my contributions. I didn’t anticipate that even an informal request could get me closer to what I wanted.

A couple of months later, my boss told me that she hadn’t forgotten my request, and when it was time for the annual cost of living increase, I received that as well as a small bump. She did exactly as she promised.

Going forward, I will be better prepared, but the lesson for me was to ask, even when fearful.

8. Be Willing to Walk Away

Every opportunity is not for you. Regardless of how much you want that position, home or promotion, be willing to walk away if you do not receive a deal that makes sense for you.

Do not allow yourself to get desperate and accept a position that you will come to view unfavorably in the future. Have enough confidence in yourself and in your abilities to leave the table completely.

When your sparring or negotiating partner realizes that you are willing to walk away completely, he or she may negotiate in better faith.

9. Shun Secrecy

I am a proponent of being discreet, but discreetness can be the enemy when it comes to negotiations.

To negotiate the best deal, you may need to shun secrecy. You will need to ask others what they earn or whether the offer you received makes sense for your years of experience, for the area of the country where you live or the position to which you are applying.

If possible, find out whether the company offered the position to others and on what terms. I was negotiating for a position and was comfortable accepting $85,000, and then a friend told me the company offered the position to a man with similar credentials and experience for $100,000. With the assistance of a friend, I was able to get $99,840.

This example illustrates why it is important to speak with trusted colleagues and mentors about offers and solicit their input on whether you are getting the best deal.

10. Look for the Win-Win

Negotiations are not one side takes all, so try not to fall into the “winners” and “losers” trap. It is possible to negotiate in a way where there are no losers but everyone wins.

The best way to ensure a win-win situation is having tons of research, understanding what motivates the other party and being willing to show and discern emotion.

Another strategy for identifying the win-win is listening carefully during negotiations to discern what is of interest to the other party. People will tell you what they want – the question is whether you are listening.

If you are in tune with the person with whom you are negotiating, you will be better equipped to identify what he or she needs to feel satisfied and give it to that individual.

11. Refuse to Fill the Pregnant Pause

In my line of public relations work, I train colleagues and clients to resist the urge to fill the pregnant pause during media interviews. One tactic that some reporters use is silence during different stages of the interview, hoping the interviewee will keep talking. But with an abundance of words comes an abundance of opportunity for error.

The same is true in negotiations. Once you state your salary and compensation package requirements, be quiet. If the person you are speaking with gets silent, you remain silent with him or her. Do not fill the pregnant pause by lowering your requirements or awkwardly adding chatter because you are uncomfortable with silence. Refuse to fill the pregnant pause.

12. Be Honest

When you are negotiating for a new position, be clear with yourself about what you need. Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with others.

If the offer represents 70 percent of what you want, do not discard the 30 percent that you are not receiving. If you are honest, you can make an informed decision about whether the position is indeed in your best interest or whether you should open yourself up for other opportunities.

If you can be mindful of these points and utilize these tactics, I am confident you will negotiate in a manner that gets you and the other party what you both truly need. You can negotiate like a pro and get the life that you deserve.

More Resources About Workplace Communication


Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com


Reference
[1] ^ Harvard Business Review: Negotiating with Emotion


This article was first published at Lifehack


11 Tips on How to Resolve (Almost) Any Conflict in the Workplace


By Margaret Olatunbosun


It takes a lot to lead people who have the same desire, dream, and vision. It is even more challenging to lead transformation and change in people who are deeply entrenched in tradition and have a rigid way of thinking. As a result, it is not uncommon for conflict to arise in the marketplace due to a difference in opinion and communication styles.

However, not all conflicts in the workplace are bad.

Healthy conflicts are good. An absence of conflict is an indication that critical thinking and a quest to question existing processes is missing in the organization. It is a huge red flag that suggests every thought or behavior is heavily moderated by someone or some people who hate criticism of any kind.

But what happens when things go awry and no one is listening at all? How do you get back on track, strengthen weakened relationships, and resolve conflicts before they become catastrophic to the entire organization?

Here are 11 tips on how to resolve almost any conflict in the workplace:

1. Identify an Outcome for the Resolution

The very first thing you need to determine as you head into a conflict resolution meeting is what you want to achieve.

Unlike most relationships, not all conflict resolutions in the workplace end with hugs, handshakes, and selfies. With that said, your approach to conflict is going differ depending on the outcome you want to achieve and/or your personality type.

There are different types of approaches to conflict resolution. They are:

  • Collaborative: In the collaborative approach, both parties aren’t burning bridges or trying to drive the other to ruin. Instead, they mutually work together to discover best practices and solutions to problems they experience.
  • Avoidance: This is very self-explanatory. With this approach, you ignore whispers, grunts, comments, and anything deemed offensive. Although the avoidance approach is not advised, it’s best used when stakes are very low and the relationships between both parties isn’t going to deteriorate.
  • Accommodation: With this approach, you’re considering the other party’s needs as more important than yours at the moment, and are willing to let them “win” in order to arrive to a peaceful solution. As this approach suggests, there is yielding from one party in the attempt to please the other.
  • Compromise: Compromise means each side gets to make mutual concessions and are willing to work together to come up with mutually pleasing outcome to both sides. With this approach, there is no loser as individuals or corporations strive for a balance with their demands.

So, the results of your resolution really depends on the degree of conflict, the type of conflict, and the outcome you want.

A disagreement between a company’s employees who belong to a union and the company’s management will take on a different approach from an interpersonal conflict between two employees in the same department. The stakes and outcomes are different which means there might be a combination of 2 or more styles of approaches to conflict.

2. Set Some Rules

The old adage that says it takes years to build relationships but few moments to ruin them is true. As a result, there are rules for how to approach conflict resolution. It doesn’t matter how minor the conflict is, you need to set some rules for how to approach resolution.

Rules are not meant to be constraints; rather, they help you operate within the boundaries of strengths which often lead to favorable outcomes. When managing conflict among co-workers, it helps to have a set of standards that everyone adheres to.

It’s not just this; rules provide a sense of security and and an assurance of fairness, something that is very much a contradiction to conflict in the first place.

Examples of such rules (depending on the degree of conflict) include: asking employees to temporarily step away from their positions, restricting authority granted to employees, or subjecting all parties involved to a formal, linear process towards resolution.

3. Invest in Your Communication and Listening Skills

Conflict resolution depends on your ability to not only hear what’s been said but also to decipher the nuances of words, body language, ‘sighs,’ and even silence. Add in several variables like religion, cultural background, ethnicity, gender, and economic differences and you have a complex case of epic misunderstandings.

This means that what an employee born in the United States finds assertive might be totally inappropriate for someone who was born and raised in a different country

Your excellent communication and listening skills will enable you to step away from the societal norms, break away from patterns that pigeonhole your decision-making skills, and open you up to different perspectives so that you can identify cues for repairing strained relationships.

4. Hold Face-To-Face Meetings

Whenever you can, always aim for a face-to-face meeting. It is challenging to convey emotions in emails because the effect of nonverbal communication is lost behind computer screens and mobile phones.

When it comes to resolving conflict, we don’t just speak and hope for the best to happen because we intend them that way. We engage all aspects of nonverbal communication. Things like tone, vocal range, micro expressions, and body language can communicate more than a simple “I apologize” in the body of an email.

5. Avoid Personal Attacks

While there could be intense emotional response to not being heard, it is important that personal attacks be discouraged and refrained from during the process of conflict resolution. Rather than result to ad hominem attacks, you should adopt a better way to communicate your feelings.

Examples of how to do this includes emphasizing the use of I-messages. With I-messages, you’re taking control of the dialogue and how the behavior made you feel. So, instead of saying “You are so rude!” when addressing conflict, a better way to communicate your displeasure without diminishing how you feel would be “I feel disrespected when you chew your gum loudly while I’m teaching in class.”

I-messages not only caters to your emotional needs, it encourages you to take responsibility by acknowledging how your actions could have contributed to the breakdown in the relationship.

6. Avoid Assigning Blame

Similar to the point above, assigning blame or taking sides is one sure way to dissolve a relationship faster than repairing one. It is human to find fault in something or someone other than ourselves. However, the goal of conflict resolution is to reduce the likelihood of shouting matches of who’s to blame and this starts by taking responsibility.

In an article by Make a dent Leadership, two types of stories in any conflict are identified:[1]

One is the story we tell ourselves to justify what’s happening, and the second story is one you tell yourself about others.

These stories can either put you under a blameless spotlight or label others in a negative light. But for conflict resolution to take place, assigning blame is not an option.

7. Hire an External Mediator

Sometimes conflict is so intense that both parties can’t seem to find a middle ground. That’s okay. In this case, it is worth it to hire an external mediator. A mediator is someone who is trained in the areas of conflict management, negotiation, and is a skilled facilitator for many cases.

According to the American Bar Association, a mediator is often needed when settlements are at a stall.[2] Not only is a mediator often required by the court sometimes, it is also less expensive and doesn’t involve a drawn-out process a normal trial would.

8. Find Common Ground

Finding common ground means searching for ideas, interests, and beliefs that are shared between opposing parties and using this to open the lines of communication for further negotiation.

This sounds easy but is actually quite challenging to put to practice. If it were this easy, there would be no reports of conflict between people, corporations, and nations.

However, when everything else fails, finding common ground can be the very thing that brings opposing parties back to the table to negotiate a mutually beneficial solution.

9. Stick to the Facts

It’s easy to fall into the trap of digging up events that happened days, months, or years ago in an attempt to shift blame to a different party. But this only makes things worse.

No matter how tempting it is to emphasize how emotionally hurt a behavior made your feel, the goal of conflict resolution is to focus on the facts instead of the interpretation of it.

For instance, if somone stepped on your toes while she was on her way to her cubicle, it should be stated as “Sarah stepped on my toes” not “Sarah tried to get be angry this morning.” This anger is an emotional response, an emotion you control, not Sarah.

10. Identify Barriers Preventing

Change from Happening
According to HR Daily Advisor, identifying barriers to change helps you define what can be changed, what can’t, and how you can get around these roadblocks.[3] Organizations can hire the best mediators or personal development experts but until they recognize and address the barriers preventing change, all efforts to settle differences will fail.

Just like you can’t treat or administer medications without having a medical diagnosis, you can’t begin to change processes and ideas without unraveling why there is friction between both parties.

11. Initiate a Conflict Management Policy

Not every conflict should degenerate into a full-blown newsworthy affair. But in order to maintain an atmosphere of respect and mutual understanding in the workplace, there needs to be a documentation of acceptable behavior and steps to take should interpersonal conflict get out of hand.

These predictions of behaviors or expectations are usually contained in documents also known as policies or employee handbooks.

A conflict management policy is a lighthouse that helps you navigate disagreement of varying levels and stakes, and an organization should never be left without one.

The Bottom Line

It is perfectly normal to experience conflict. Healthy conflict inspires growth and innovation while drawing out the gifts inside of you. The key is to recognize the shift from health to unhealthy and begin the steps to restore a balance to existing relationships.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference
[1] ^ Makeadent: The Five Most Common Types of Conflict In The Workplace
[2] ^ American Bar Association: Winning at Mediation
[3] ^ HR Daily Advisor. 6 Steps to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace


This article was first published at Lifehack


How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office


By Mat Apodaca


We all have our own unique way of communicating with each other. This is true in our personal lives as well as at work.

We all have run into people at both work and play that we just don’t seem to get. Not only do we not hit it off with them, we honestly have a hard time understanding the point they are making. It can be very frustrating interacting with someone when it seems like we are miles apart in the understanding department.

On the flip side, it’s awesome when we hit it off with people that just seem to “get us”. The conversation flows and there is an immediate sense of connection. There’s a reason for that.

In this article, we will look at 4 different communication styles. While we will focus on how to understand and work with different communication styles at the office, this can hold true in our personal lives as well. It will benefit you greatly at work to be cognizant of these different communication styles.

Once you are familiar with them, you will find it easier to navigate communicating with different communication styles at the office.

Let’s look at four primary communication styles at work.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. 4 Communication Styles
1. Functional
2. Analytical
3. Personal
4. Intuitive

2. How To Work With Different Communication Styles
3.Conclusion

4 Communication Styles

There are certainly more than 4 communication styles. We all have our own unique way of communicating.

Most people tend to have components of the communication that will place them more towards one of these 4 styles. It’s worth noting that very few of us fit exactly into one of these communication styles. We do have a stronger tendency and show attributes towards one or two.

Let’s take a look at the four primary communication styles. You will see characteristics in yourself that have similarities to one or more of these.

It also helps provide you with some insight into others communication style. This will allow you to be more aware of how we talk, interact, and communicate with each other and help you be a more effective communicator.

1. Functional

A functional communicator is someone who likes to get deep into the details. Someone who likes to understand how everything works.

They tend to be methodical, process driven and very detail oriented. He or she likes to work with timelines and milestones.

Think of a functional communicator like a detail oriented project manager. They like to see the whole picture as well as the details that make it all happen.

A functional communicator likes to ensure they have a full understanding of projects before they kick things off and get started.

Functional communicators rarely make big mistakes because they focus on the many details. People like working with functional communicators because they work on a granular level and uncover possible mistakes that can be made.

Jumping right into something and “winging it” makes a functional communicator very uncomfortable. They can tend to be long winded and over detailed so when presenting to others don’t be surprised to see numerous glassy eyes in the audience.

2. Analytical

Analytical communicators have similarities to functional communicators. They tend to be less emotional. They like hard numbers and are data driven.

An analytical communicator likes direct conversation and does not do well with ambiguity or shades of gray. They tend to be good at making fair, fact based decisions without the emotional baggage attached to it. They sometimes come off as cold and emotionless.

Analytical communicators have little patience for emotional words and feelings when communicating. When you tell them sales are down, they want to know how much, as in a specific percentage.

One of their really great assets is that they are able to look at issues logically and analytically. On the downside, other people sometimes think of them as detached and robotic.

3. Personal

People with a personal communication style value emotional language and connection. They find a lot of value in not just what someone is saying and what they are thinking but also how they are feeling.

Being good listeners and a tendency to being diplomatic are trademarks of the personal communicator. A personal communication style can help smooth over conflicts and are very interested in the health of relationships.

Personal communicators really value connection and use that as a way to discovering how someone is truly thinking and feeling.

A huge upside to a personal communicator is that their style of communication tends to build deep personal relationship with others. They can be the glue that keeps things together.

On the downside, personal communicators can be viewed as too “touch feely” or “warm and fuzzy” by analytical communicators. I have a lot of traits of a personal communicator.

4. Intuitive

People with an intuitive communication style like to see the big picture. They don’t like getting bogged down in the weeds or too many details.

When communicating, many times they will get right to the point without any fluff. They don’t have to hear the whole story or chain of events to get to the end result, just skip right to the good stuff.

As you might imagine the upside to an intuitive communicator is that, they are direct. No nonsense and extra information needed, just right to the end game.

The not as great side to being an intuitive communicator is they usually lack patience. When dealing with other communication styles, they lose interest and focus fast. They aren’t big fans of all the details or the step by step process that led something from point A to point B.

Again, they are great at looking at the big picture and being direct in communication. They aren’t so great in the details pieces of communication which can be an issue.

How To Work With Different Communication Styles

Now that we’ve taken a look at the 4 primary communication styles, let’s take a look at how to work with each style at the office.

In this section, you will learn the best way to interact and communicate with each style. As a reminder, understanding different communication styles will help you work and communicate better at work.

How to Work with a Functional Communicator

When you work with a functional communicator here are some key points to keep in mind.

The whole picture

Remember, functional communicators like to see the details in relation to the whole picture. Therefore, it’s a good idea to show them the complete plans of what you are speaking to them about.

Same thing goes in a written communication. They like to take the time to review the entire process and details. It’s important to them to understand their role and responsibilities in the project.

Provide feedback

Functional communicators enjoy hearing feedback throughout the journey. Provide them with your input on how they are doing. They are typically open to feedback from their peers.

Questions

They will tend to ask a lot of questions. Again, this comes from wanting to understand the entire scope of the project before they get going.

Allow them to ask as many questions as they need. A functional communicator will work best with a boss or manager that allows them to ask a lot of of questions AND will provide real feedback.

This is of major importance to remember when working with a functional communicator at the office.

How to Work with an Analytical Communicator

Bring the numbers

As a reminder, analytical communicators like numbers and hard facts. When you interact with an analytical communicator, be ready to back up your story with facts and figures.

Data means everything to this communication style so the more you bring, the better off things will go.

Be logical Spock

Just like Spock was always spouting about how things were or weren’t logical, so is the analytical communicator. They live in the logical world and don’t have high regard for emotions.

When they are ready to make a decision, it is almost always based on the numbers, not on how they feel about it.

Cut the chit chat

Analytical communicators aren’t great conversationalists. They don’t like stories that make a point.

When you interact with this communication style, get to the point with your data and facts and figures. Don’t waste your breath on small talk. At least don’t spend much time on the small talk and chit chat.

How to Work with a Personal Communicator

Open up

Remember that personal communicators focus first and foremost on relationships. They like to understand what someone is feeling as well as thinking.

Be willing to share with them how you feel about a subject. It doesn’t have to be anything too personal but more about if you are feeling good or not about how a project is going. That’s what is important to them.

Personally, I respond very well when someone opens up to me about how they are feeling about something. In my opinion, it develops a sense of trust.

Be live

Personal communicators respond better to conversation in real life as opposed to over email or the phone.

Whenever possible, talk to them in person. They thrive on the in person experience and don’t always respond well to emails.

Don’t sweat the data

Personal communicators don’t respond as well to data and metrics and numbers nearly as much as emotion and connections.

Unlike analytical and functional communicators who love and thrive on data, it doesn’t do much for the personal communicator.

Don’t worry too much about providing detailed numbers to back up your point. I enjoy data to a point but can’t spend too much time analyzing a spreadsheet.

How to Work with an Intuitive Communicator

Short and sweet

Since intuitive communicators like to understand the big picture without the details, it’s best to keep conversations short and sweet.

Don’t worry about bringing lots of details and instructions. Keep the conversation on point.

Feel free to provide a quick overview of the steps of the process or the big picture overview but don’t get into the weeds. An intuitive communicator will lose patience and interest fast.

Provide visuals

As intuitive communicators like to see the whole picture, having a visual or two is great when interacting with them.

Don’t be surprised if they whip out a pen and paper, and begin sketching the idea you are talking about. Being able to see it and not just speak it goes a long way with an intuitive communicator.

Allow ideas

They love being able to see and understand the big picture. If you are managing an intuitive communicator, allow them the space to share their ideas.

Let them talk to you about their ideas, and provide them with an outlet for sharing the big picture ideas they bring to the table. This can be a real asset if you allow it and conversely a point of contention if you don’t.

Conclusion

We’ve taken a look at 4 major communication styles that many of us see in the office. Now that you have a good understanding of the communication styles, take a look at yourself and see what your communication style is.

Do any of these seem like you?

Like most of us, you probably visualize yourself as primarily being like one of the 4 styles with some traits of one or two of the others.

It’s important to keep these communication styles in mind when working with others. Once you understand and work with different communication styles in the office, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively. And communicating more effectively with others at the office will pay rich dividends in your career.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user rawpixel rawpixel @rawpixel rawpixel via unsplash.com


This article was first published at Lifehack


How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career


By Mat Apodaca


The power of effective communication is amazing. A company that clearly communicates their strategy can get everyone working towards the same goal. Alternatively, a company that has a lack of communicate strategy clearly isn’t going to get good buy-in from the folks that work there because they don’t know the vision.

If you’ve seen someone who delivers a speech that moves you to do something, you’ve seen powerful communication in action. Someone who is able to motivate others through the effectiveness of delivering a message is quite powerful indeed. When it gives you tingles, you know it’s great.

I realized the power of communication way back in my days as a Kinko’s store manager. I can’t really describe how many orders didn’t turn out the way they should have due to lack of communication. This happened both when a customer would not clearly explain what they were wanting as well as the co-worker who didn’t effectively communicate what our capabilities were. The majority of these mistakes boiled down to a lack of communication.

We’ve all read about how you have to speak up to get what you want. If you are in a relationship and don’t effectively communicate your wants and needs to your partner, chances are you won’t receive those wants and needs. This is true in just about any situation. The same thing is true at work. If you don’t communicate what you want out of a career or what is important to you, chances are it will drastically impact your career. A lack of communication at work can have a detrimental effect in many ways.

Stating what you want isn’t selfish, it’s required for you to have the relationship or career that you want. The ability to communicate well is a huge bonus in helping you attain the career you want.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career

2. Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Verbal

Written

3. How Strong Communication Make Your Career Better
4. Conclusion

How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career

If you think about it, every day at work you are building your reputation. As you gain experience in your field, you are also building your name. Your name, your reputation, your status, your character, and your standing in your company and field are being created each and every day by what you do. Or by what you don’t do.

You might become known as someone who gets things done. Maybe you’re the person that always has a creative solution. When an important project comes up it might be your name that comes to mind to lead the team.

If you have poor communication skills or a lack of communication, your name probably isn’t the one that comes to mind when that big project comes up. Or a fat raise. Not to mention a promotion. Here are some reasons why:

You won’t get the support or tools you need to succeed.

How do you expect to get the tools and resources you need to do the best possible work if you aren’t able to communicate it? You can’t!

A lack of communication will keep you with whatever resources you have. It’s up to you to know what you need to be successful in your job and communicate that need.

One of the biggest ones is ongoing development of your work skills. You have to stay on top of what’s current (and ask for it) or you won’t stay relevant in your field. This happens a lot in dynamic industries such as technology.

There’s a good possibility you’ll be misunderstood.

When you aren’t able to articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly, you put yourself at a big disadvantage. It’s much easier for people to misunderstand what you mean or your position on something if you lack communication skills.

If you are unable to get your point across, it’s easy for your coworkers to simply assume what you mean, whether they are right or not.

A lack of communication greatly increases the chances you will be misunderstood.

You could get left out or misinformed.

People who are poor communicators or lack communication skills tend to be bad listeners.

Bad listeners do not pay as much attention to what’s being said as they should. They also wind up interrupting a lot and jump to their own conclusions without really knowing what’s going on.

These type people find themselves getting left out of more and more conversations because their coworkers get tired of dealing with them.

Nobody likes to work with someone who interrupts all the time and never really listens. After a while the only person they have left to talk to is themselves.

Lack of communication creates doubt and uncertainty.

This is especially true if you are a manager of people. A lack of communication to your team can create a lot of uncertainty.

I know people who weren’t really sure what they were responsible for in their roles because their manager never communicated goals and expectations.

Unfortunately this is not uncommon. This holds true even with working with other people.

If you aren’t able to communicate to others what you are doing or what’s going on, you are going to instill doubt.

Your lack of communication can lead to rumors and gossip.

When we don’t hear about something, it’s human nature to fill in the blanks with our own version. We don’t like uncertainty so will solve the mystery ourselves when we have a lack of communication from someone we work with.

Your annual review is 2 months overdue and you haven’t heard anything from your boss? They might be considering eliminating your position. One of your coworkers is always out of the office on Friday afternoons? They probably get special treatment for some reason.

See how this lack of communication can cause rumors and speculation?

Now that we’ve looked at some ways that a lack of communication can drastically impact your career, let’s look at how you can improve your communication skills.

Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

When you think about improving your communication skills at work you need to look at the primary ways we communicate, verbal and written.

Let’s take a look at how to improve both your written and verbal communication skills.

Verbal

1. Less is more

Have you ever walked out of a meeting and felt like the other person spoke the whole time and you learned nothing? Don’t be that person.

When you speak at work make it short and sweet. It’s fine to catch up and talk about the weather but when it’s time to talk about the important stuff, don’t overload your audience with a word avalanche.

2. Be a good listener

It may seem funny to be a good listener in order to be a good communicator but it actually makes sense.

When you show that you actually listen and care about what other people are saying it shows that you understand their needs. This enables you to build trust in the relationship. It’s key.

3. Be confident

When you speak with confidence, it shows that you know what you are talking about.

This isn’t just about verbal, it’s also about your body language. Speak in a clear tone of voice and maintain eye contact when speaking with someone. This conveys your confidence.

4. Think before you open your mouth

When you have a fairly good idea of what you are going to say before you actually speak, you are able to convey your ideas more clearly. This also helps you eliminate longer pauses when you are speaking.

5. Concise

Ever read the Einstein quote “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”? Sage words from an incredibly wise man.

This is so true at work as well. You have to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly and simply so other people can understand you. Critical.

Written

6. Check your grammar and spelling

This is number one for a reason. At work, it is vitally important that you do not have grammatical errors in your written communication. This includes reports as well as emails.

Having typos peppered into your written communication makes others think that you are too lazy or sloppy to care about spelling. Bad news.

7. Clear and concise

This is just as important in written as it is in verbal.

Most of us receive way too many emails at work. Nobody likes wading through seas of information to find the one or two points they need. There’s no need to put a lot of filler in when less will do.

8. Know your audience

If you are composing an email to the President of your company, you should write in a certain tone.

If the email is to your coworker that you have lunch with every day and go get after work drinks on a weekly basis, you probably don’t need to be as formal.

Write to your audience.

9. Use structure

This goes along with being clear and concise. If you write emails in one long paragraph consisting of 1,000 words, you are making your readers eyes glaze over.

Use things like subheadings, bullet points, and numbering when needed to break up the words and create some nice structure that flows. This is true in any written documentation whether it be reports, emails, or something else.

10. Use names

To make it more friendly and engaging, use your audience names when possible. Obviously you can’t do this in a formal report but with emails and similar you sure can.

I have found that wrapping up with someone’s name also helps them respond in a more timely and positive manner. Something like:

“As you can see Jim, this will go a long way to helping us get the Morris account, I look forward to hearing back from you soon”.

How Strong Communication Make Your Career Better

When you develop strong communication skills, it can help your career in many ways.

First of all, strong communication skills show confidence in yourself and your ideas. This is a great quality to have in general and certainly at work. When you are confident in your abilities, it makes others see you as a leader.

Strong communication skills helps you get your points across. When you can clearly and concisely state your view on important points, you are clearly understood. When you are clearly understood, it helps others buy into your ideas easier.

Possessing the ability to convey what you need effectively will help you get the tools and resources you need to do your job the best you can. When you can articulate to your boss that going to a conference helps you stay at the top of your game, you’ve got a good chance of going.

If your boss is like mine, he or she will make you show the ROI (return on investment) for getting new resources. Not hard to do if you can communicate well.

Having good communication is a skill senior leadership looks for in others to help lead teams. I know I’ve been around managers who lead a team but are bad a communicating goals, processes, and expectations. It leads to under performing groups and subpar results. Not exactly leadership material.

If you are a leader, then having strong communication skills is critical to getting others to follow your vision. Working for a leader with poor communication skills to share their vision only leads to a boat going in circles. Who wants to be on that ride?

Conclusion

We’ve explored how a lack of communication can drastically impact your career. When you show a lack of communication, it can drastically impact how successful a career you have.

Speak up to get what you want. Having strong communication skills can help you do just that.

Let’s communicate, people!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com


This article was first published at Lifehack