Part of my work is helping people to have more productive relationships at work, and in my experience a more productive relationship is always achieved by creating a more peaceful one.
World-renowned psychologists Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick offer these tips that apply to any type of relationship.
8 Keys For Successful Relationship
Click here to download the PDF directly from the University of Santa Monica website: 8 Keys For Successful Relationship
If you apply these keys to your relationship with that annoying or difficult person in your workplace (you know the one), I’ll bet the relationship will be significantly improved in 3 months or less. Here are the 8 Keys along with my simple examples of how to apply them at work:
1. Be willing to give up personal space.
Be willing to sacrifice your personal preference, your righteousness, having it “your way”. When you do this, you demonstrate to the other person that you’re open for cooperation. You will probably have many opportunities to practice this. Keep practicing.
2. Pay attention to the little things— small kindnesses are extremely nurturing to a relationship.
Watch and listen for clues as to what matters deeply to this person. When you know what they value, you know how to make a peace offering. It could be a kind word, an open-ended question, or a token of some kind to show that you are paying attention. In working closely with others, we often fail to slow down and notice the things that open their hearts.
3. Keep your agreements.
A great way to manage this is to write down everything you agree to do, small and large, at the moment when you say “Yes” to it. Review these lists regularly, and communicate with the person about how you’re doing at keeping that agreement along the way. These may be very tiny agreements, but keeping them builds trust on a subconscious level. It has irreplaceable value.
4. Take responsibility for your own upset regardless of what the other person has or has not done.
I know, you are upset “because…” and you have a long list of reasons the other person is the cause of your upset. But fortunately, they are not. Ever notice how on a great day your attitude will carry you through all kinds of minor upsets unscathed? When you are the owner of your emotions, and use them as indicators of where you can create more peace inside yourself, then the other person is no longer at fault for triggering you. I will add on to this key that you must take responsibility for how you created, promoted, or allowed every situation you are in. When you do this, you gain the freedom to create, promote and allow future situations with greater awareness.
5. Share gratitude and appreciation regularly.
We forget about this one at work far too often. Sharing genuine gratitude and appreciation is more than saying polite “thank you’s”. It’s about taking the time to slow down and notice what others are doing well, the efforts they are putting into their work, the ways they are striving to improve. I suggest you focus on appreciating this person in a specific area that has been challenging for you to accept. For example, if your colleague never formats their reports “the right way” according to you, appreciate all the others things they do correctly in that same report. You’ll bring to your attention the goodness of the person, and at the same time communicate your support.
6. Be a really good listener.
This key on its own could solve most relationship issues. As we learn from the excellent book Difficult Conversations by members of The Harvard Negotiation Project, most of the time we are too busy interpreting what the other person is saying through our highly subjective too-quick-to-judge filters of reality. Keys to good listening are being willing to not know all the answers, and being genuinely curious and open to discovering the good intentions of the speaker. Become child-like in your inquiries and your innocence will reveal a wealth of important information.
7. Don’t complain about your partner with your friends.
No matter how much this person is rubbing you the wrong way, venting about it is not going to change them, the situation, or how you feel about it. Be conscious when you go into “gossip mode” and eliminate (or at least reduce) your complaining with your friends or other co-workers. Consider for a moment that your relationship with this person is a sacred learning opportunity. Resist the temptation to air it for the world.
8. Your job is not to fix or change your partner—your job is to Love them.
This one is challenging for most people, and certainly keeps me on my toes. Another way of saying this for the business world is, “No matter what roles you find yourselves in, it is not your responsibility to change or fix anyone. Your job is to accept them and continue working with them to the best of your abilities.” Even when you offer this person feedback, guidance or correction, remember that your primary job is to find acceptance in yourself first. When you offer feedback from an altitude of neutrality, the other person has the opportunity to receive it. It may even be the only way the other person can receive it.
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your ideas about how to use these 8 Keys, or how you are already using them.
Master’s Degrees in Spiritual Psychology
If you’re not yet acquainted with The University of Santa Monica, here is a link to the excellent work they are doing:
Difficult Conversations – How To Discuss What Matters Most
by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, Roger Fisher
Just For Fun
I discovered one other blogger who has posted about these same 8 Keys. Enjoy the cute photos of cats demonstrating the keys!