If communication is the foundation for all successful relationships, then why do we struggle with creating rewarding, supportive relationships that foster alignment around shared goals, especially with the people we rely on to achieve greater personal and organizational success?
Shoot the Messenger
Did you ever cut someone off when speaking to them just to get your point across? Have you ever been in a conversation that escalated into a conflict and eroded interpersonal trust? What about the silos created in your company when you have cross functional departments that need to work successfully together to drive more sales and greater results, yet whose goals and daily priorities seem to compete and conflict with your department’s business objectives, creating an adversarial relationship from the start?
While most people would agree they’ve shared these experiences, the question to ask yourself is, “Why am I in these situations at all?”
In Order to Grow, You Have to Let Go
Let’s put a spotlight over your agenda and your attachment to the outcome you want to create in every conversation. That’s right, the greatest barrier to effective communication and creating a collaborative and healthy work environment is you! The secret to building or rebuilding trust and creating valuable relationships is as simple as identifying the very barrier which prevents you from achieving this. Here it is:
Seek to understand, respect and support every person’s agenda, goals and point of view, while aligning their agenda with yours to achieve a mutually desired outcome.
One of the most important skills for any human is the ability to communicate, powerfully, concisely, respectfully and in a way that co-creates new possibilities that deliver value for everyone. So, how do you actually put this strategy into action? How do you communicate in a way that repairs and reinforces trust, breaks down internal silos and creates supportive, beneficial and honest relationships?
We would all agree that effective communication is the cornerstone to any successful relationship and a core characteristic of the world’s greatest leaders. Ironically, it’s still one of the greatest talent gaps and least developed skill across every organization. Here’s why.
Effective communication isn’t just passively listening to others and sharing your ideas and opinions but your mindset and attitude, the assumptions you’re making about the person or the conversation, the words you choose and how they are delivered. Conversely, when your self-serving message is compounded with an adversarial approach, you deliver the wrong message that creates what you want to avoid.
Honor Everyone’s Agenda by Detaching from Your Own
When I ask managers and teams what their greatest challenges are, it always comes down to communication breakdowns; whether among teams, peers, managers, customers, as well as cross functional departments. Yet, when I ask them what they’ve done to reset and reinvent the relationships they need to accelerate success and eliminate these internal conflicts, the answer is, “I’m not exactly sure how to do this. And what I have tried, didn’t work.”
That’s why the solution isn’t simply to, “Become a better communicator” because everyone has their own personal agenda. And since you’re making the conversation about what you want, then what you want becomes the primary focus of your communication, creating the adversarial, defensive posture that makes people aware of your selfish intentions. Instead, the real lesson here is, “Become a better messenger by focusing on the value you can give.“
The Message and Delivery Is All That Matters
To illustrate this, here’s a talk track to use that will enable you to re-build trust and create authentic, supportive relationships.
Be respectful of their time, to ensure you’re having these conversations at a time where the other person is open, receptive and focused on the conversation, without feeling that you’re once again, pushing your agenda. Doing so can easily make the other person feel that you’re not respecting their time and priorities, since you’re focused on your own agenda that’s pulling them away from completing something that was important to them.
Here’s how to break down internal silos and ultimately create one team and one shared goal.
When you transform the conversation, you transform the outcome.
How to Repair Trust and Create Healthy, Supportive Relationships
“Hey Jan. Do you have some time to talk about something I’ve observed that would re-set our relationship and allow me to better support you in your role, or are you in the middle of something?”
“Jan, what I want for you is to feel that I am a trusted resource to help you succeed and support you around your goals. Since we’re in different departments and are evaluated by different metrics and key performance indicators, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye when relying on each other to get our jobs done. We all have different priorities and points of view, and I may not have always given yours the attention or respect it deserves. So, I’m asking for your forgiveness, as I was guilty of doing this.
That’s why I can really use your help. I’d like to hit the reset button on our relationship and redesign how our departments interact and work together so we can support each other to achieve all our goals.
I know there may be some things that were said or done that created the tension and disconnect between us and our departments. That’s why I’d love to take some time to better understand your role, challenges, how you’re evaluated and your business objectives, so I can support your department, while aligning our collective efforts to achieve our mutual goals.
So, let’s work together to re-design our relationship, clarify the best process for us to collaborate and the most effective way to communicate, even in the face of adversity or when working through a challenge. Setting these clear expectations would be beneficial for everyone and ultimately achieve the company’s common goal and shared vision. Are you open to breaking down and removing these barriers between our departments and work together so that we can all achieve more by collaborating rather than competing?”
Focus on What You Can Give, Not What You Can Get
Creating new possibilities starts with crafting the right message. And you can only create a compelling message if you initially focus on how you can help others, rather than what you need from them. Ultimately, the law of reciprocity will kick in, inspiring others to support you, as well.
The exiting part is, you no longer have to tolerate the time-consuming conflicts, mistakes, sabotaging behaviors and inefficiencies when competing with the departments you rely on to get your job done. One conversation that respects and supports the other person’s agenda and demonstrates a desire to create strong, healthy relationships can develop the high performance, collaborative culture every department and person wants and needs.