Relationships are difficult — because people are strange. They want a place in the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the middle of the road. Tell people there are 300 billion stars and they’ll believe you. But tell them that a bench has just been painted, and they have to touch it to make sure.
And relationships are difficult — because people are frustrating. They show up at the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reason. They tell you one thing and do another.
Fortunately, people are interesting, even though they’re not always charming. Yet the fact of the matter is — we’ve got to work with people. And every business that has ever been successful has learned how to turn people into partners.
So how can you do that? Let me suggest two strategies from my new program, The Power of Partnership: Keys to Better Relationships and Greater Teamwork. (To read about this program, click here.)
1. Make the other person feel important.
It’s so powerful that it will make almost any relationship better.
And it’s so simple because people are important. If it weren’t for the people in your company, no work would be getting done; no sales would be made; no customers would be satisfied; and no future would exist.
Don’t make the mistake so many managers make. Don’t focus all your attention on managing the “bottom line” while forgetting to recognize the “people” who produce that bottom line.
Go out of your way to make three people on your team feel important today. Don’t wait for a special, extraordinary bit of performance on the part of your team members, and don’t wait for a special occasion to say something. Often times, it’s the little things they do–that you notice–that make the biggest impact.
It turns people into partners because people cannot resist your genuine respect and recognition.
2. Encourage open communication.
I spent several years as a university professor and I’ve spent the last many years as a professional speaker in hundreds of organizations. One thing I’ve noticed in both environments is people’s reluctance to ask questions. No one wants to give the impression of not knowing something.
That’s sad, but it’s also insane. The fastest learners on earth are human children because they’re not afraid to ask questions. Oh, they may drive us crazy, asking “why” for the tenth time, but they’re also on the surest road to success — the gathering of additional information.
Unfortunately, we live in a political culture and an organizational culture where appearances seem to be more important than truth. In other words, if you don’t know everything, at least look like you know everything. Don’t ever admit you don’t know something. And don’t ask any questions. That will blow your cover.
Again, that’s insane. It’s insane when people would rather remain stupid than appear stupid. That’s why I tell my coaching clients that asking stupid questions is always better than correcting stupid mistakes.
To turn people into partners, encourage open communication. Ask lots of questions. Encourage others to ask lots of questions. Build a culture where people share what they know and be honest about what they don’t know.
Decide to make this a week where you gain at least one significant insight from someone on your team. It’s another way to turn a person into a partner. Find a person at work that is truly excellent at what he or she does. Ask that person to share one thing that has really helped them be successful.
Yes, people can be challenging. But they can also be a lot less challenging when you use these two partnership-building strategies.