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Inspiring others to do great work, and lead their best lives!

How Not to Win the “Doesn’t Play Well with Others” Prize

In working with clients, we notice an underlying theme. Regardless of whether we’re asked to help with developing a strategic plan, help a team work together more effectively or coach one on one to develop leadership skills or improve on a performance issue, being able to get along with others is a theme as constant as a heartbeat.

What makes getting along with others so hard? Why is it so difficult to “live and let live”? What can we do to get better at strengthening our relationships? Whether it’s at work or at home, why do we so often open our mouth and shoot off our foot?

We think often about these questions and want to use this blog to offer ideas that you can think about and experiment with that may improve all of your important relationships. The same attributes that help you shine and stand out as a leader or as a strong team member will also serve you well in your personal life. Here is one idea that works for us.

We try to make it safe enough for people to tell us anything and everything. We work at suspending judgment and at not labeling people as being right or wrong or good or bad.

Imagine yourself sitting across from someone important to you with something significant on your mind or in your heart that you want or need to talk about. What do you hope or wish that the person will do or not do that will make it feel safe to have this conversation? Maybe you hope and wish for. . .

  • Their undivided attention, with no cell phone or electronic distractions, no interruptions or watching the time
  • The space to express what you’re thinking, without being hammered by probing questions
  • Good listening, with no interruptions or attempts to steer the conversation to meet the other person’s agenda
  • No advice, no unasked for feedback, no frowning or crossed arms, no “thousand miles away” expression
  • A chance to put your thoughts and feelings out on the table, with no fear of being laughed at, ridiculed, scolded or “nibbled” down to size

These are real life wishes that clients tell us they hope for when they have something significant to talk about with someone important in their lives. Whether you’re at work and needing to have a conversation with an employee about a performance problem, or with a colleague who took credit for your work and got a promotion out of it, or at home, needing to find out why your above average child is in danger of not graduating from high school, being able to make it safe enough for people to tell you anything and everything is powerful.

Ginger Ward-Green

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