Irrespective of the time, age or era that we live in - Stone Age, Iron Age, Paper Age or Digital Age, one fact is for certain. All ages are people ages and winners in the 'People' world are those who master insights into the behaviours of people, are sensitive to their needs and systematically develop a sense of mastery over the art of managing relationships.
Relationships are very essential. It includes those with family, friends, community and colleagues at work. But most importantly, colleagues at work with whom we spend not only a big chunk of our living time but also upon whom lies our success.
Albeit, the context, the challenges and the tools for creating value in each of the different ages mentioned above may differ, organisations thrive and succeed only when leaders put a premium on creating value through internal and external relationships.
If one dissects the entire hierarchy of corporate human relationships whether at the vertically higher levels with bosses, at the horizontal levels with peers and at the vertically lower levels with supporting teams, one sees an inter - play of a lot of relationships - direct and indirect supportive or unsupportive which drives human successes and endeavours. However, one also notices traces of certain predominant impairing behavioural characteristics in these relationships that ruin the people route to success. These are:
1. Dynamic uncertainty of predicting human behaviours and reactions. Given a second repeat of the same stimulation, human response may not necessarily be the same. The human mind and psychology is very dynamic and non - predictable.
2. Conflicting interests in the hierarchy. Each level in the different hierarchies generally believes that it is more competent than its next higher level and like - wise each higher level in the structure generally believes that the next lower level is incompetent and cannot succeed (sadly) without its direct supervision.
3. A general sense of insecurity prevails at all levels amongst the winners and the others. This creates a feeling of suspicion, need for dependency and an acute need for trust. People are unable to experience genuine support.
4. Desire to learn, lead and socially be valued as a winner is a common expectation. 'Pay me less but my give me a better title'. Thus people have deep down a need and an expectation for extrinsic 'symbolic' motivators.
5. There is a continuous human need for communications and information to track ongoing progress of their goal driven actions. The pressure for this is created by a deep desire for achievement and accomplishments and a fear of failure.
6. An inherent need to feel a deep sense of meaningful involvement, inclusion and engagement with the value creating process. Thus need for intrinsic motivation and continuous engagement is expected. If you cannot genuinely 'Engage' people, you lose them first emotionally, then mentally and thereafter, physically.
7. Prevalence of stress and frustration in work anchored relationships. Stress is generated when competency to achieve the desired goals falls short thus it leads to tension and undesirable behaviours. Frustrations occur when all their goal driven behaviours meet obstacles that block the goal from being achieved. If in a work set up, you perceive your manager or one of your colleagues (rightly or wrongly), to be the cause of your stress or your frustrations, that would bring the end of trust in such corporate relationships.
These seven impairing influencers tend to hamper thus disturb the equilibrium and spiral of relationships in the human organisation. The ongoing challenge before us therefore, is to insulate ourselves and develop a blue print to reduce the impact of these negative imperatives. This will enable development of robust relationships in the work environment.
Fighting and blaming your colleagues is no way to cope with your stress, frustrations or failures. These are therefore some of my recommendation on dealing with these impairing factors to build robust relationships at work-places that would combat the self - defeating enemy within us.
- Remove the mask and deep delve and understand the importance of understanding the inner you. Look within yourself and understand your feelings, thoughts and beliefs that impact you. Self awareness builds great foundations for positive work relationships. You may just realise that the enemy of the relationship may just have been hiding deep inside you and you were searching for it all around.
- Periodically keep an eye on the side mirrors seeing yourself as others see you. Listening and deep observations around how people react to you, is necessary for introspection that builds sustainable relationships. Be open to feedback. If not, you might just get a rude shock during your annual appraisals. Most corporate relationships breakdown at this 'annual appraisal point'. Yourself image crumples when the boss - man says your performance does not measure to his expectations. Even if it may actually be true. It triggers sentiments and reactions that shatter your nerves and breaks - down your relationships.
- Emotionally be sensitive and understand behaviours of the others. Think with your feelings. Deep observations may help you develop insights in their behaviours and helps position yourself better. You may, armed with these insights become more facilitative and helpful to others. It furthermore helps to build strong bonds. Empathy is very valuable in building robust work relationships. Emotions are like wild horses. But to win over them, you need to take charge and learn to deal with them.
- Begin with trust in all relationships. When you feel in doubt, don't go to sleep with a heavy heart and a suspicion in your mind. Seek clarifications of your doubts. Confront for clarification rather than show superficial courtesy when in suspicion. Beat cognitive distortions and negative thinking every time that it hits your thoughts.
- Build Authenticity in relationships. Relationships thrive when parties have strength of character and reflect values. We tend to favour superficial courtesy and avoid giving actual negative feedback despite strongly believing in it. This in a way misguides. It becomes difficult if through-out the year you made a person believe there is no problem with his performance and then at the end of the year say, 'not matching expectations'! Say what you mean...mean what you say. Gracefully, of course to build robust relationships. Authentic concern and investing in coaching to help the person succeed is a critical ingredient that builds strong relationships.
- Master the art of calmly managing your inner equanimity and peace. That will help you to manage disagreements when they arise. That is called harmony of conflict.
- Be supportive provide help, share resources, stretch out in adversities, genuinely defend in public out - bursts etc.
Replace rigidity with flexibility and adaptability. That is very critical in relationships. Take charge for your success and stop blaming other for failure of your relationships. There is no other magic wand for that.