In my many years of working with high conflict couples, I discovered that marriage is not much different than any other relationship- including that of business relationships.
The same communication skills, attitude, and commitment are required to make any successful partnership thrive.
Here are three themes that can cross both lines
1. Our defenses get in the way- The number one reason why we can’t listen to others is that we don’t feel safe. We get triggered and revert back to very old defensive mechanisms that protected us so well growing up, but have the opposite effect in our current relationships. These defenses make it extremely difficult for us to listen or consider the other’s viewpoint. We perpetuate the discord and often end up in a worse situation than we were previously. Creating a structured communication process that calms our reactivity and allows us to show up and be present is the key to be able to open up a dialogue.
2. If we listen long enough everyone makes sense– We are too quick to dismiss another’s viewpoint because it is different from ours. In our own self-absorption, we may not be able to cross the bridge and even understand the validity of the other’s perspective. While we need not to agree, it is important to validate the right of the other to have an opinion and to appreciate where they are coming from. An unhappy customer who is posting on social media about your company can become your most loyal and outspoken fan when you do a good job really listening and validating their concerns. What I have found is that if we listen long enough, without judgment, but with curiosity, we will discover the story beneath the story. It is that depth that will explain that differing perspective and enable us to make sense of it.
3. Our greatest need is to feel connected– Couples have plenty of complaints and once they are resolved, they’ll find more. The underlying need is to feel connected. Once that connection is there, the small stuff often becomes insignificant. The same applies in any relationship. The issues become a smokescreen for something much bigger. While you need not bond with your employees, co-workers, or customers they want to feel like you care and be treated with dignity. That sense of caring will help them feel like a million bucks. They will be easier to work with and will want to support you. If there is a complainer in your company, listen to their gripes and seek to connect in any way you can. They may just want to feel like you hear them, even more than resolving the particular complaint.
In work, play, and love, relationships are relationshps. Just remember sometimes our defenses get in the way of us being able to listen and connect, if we listen long enough everyone makes sense, and ultimately our greatest need is to feel connected.
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