With so many variables at play in a business relationship, it’s easy to get off track and not know what happened, or how to get back on track. These are some variables you can control.
These tips don’t cover everything, but when you master them, they will take you a long way.
Its acid on relationships. Do what you can to avoid causing others to feel defensive. Avoid creating one-up one-down situations. And avoid feeling defensive yourself; focus on remaining objective in difficult situations. This quells defensiveness in everyone.
Each of us has a personal perception of the world. We may think we’re seeing the same thing; in actuality, our brains see it in our own unique way. Keep this in mind especially when you disagree. The other person may not be stupid or crazy — they just see it differently. It’s incredibly useful to simply ask how they see it. You can learn a lot. And when you disagree, it’s also incredibly useful to start with something like, “I see it differently. The way I see it…”
Listen truly fully. Don’t engage that part of your brain that wants to counter what you’re hearing, or find the flaw, or ready a list of responses. Just listen. Soak it in on all channels. I guarantee you’ll learn more.
When it’s appropriate, paraphrase using your own words what you heard the person say. Important: be sure to ask if you got it right so they can clarify any missed bits. A good paraphrase sounds something like this: “What I heard you say was XXX. Is that right?” People are more willing to listen to you when you take the time to understand where they are coming from.
5. Assume positive intent.
Infer the positive intent behind what someone’s saying. Realize that few people intend to discount; it just happens (personal perception, remember?). So pause for a moment and consider the positive intent. Example: “She wants this to move forward so she wants us to stay under the budget,” instead of, “There she goes again! It’s always about the money with her.” When you get the hang of communicating this way, people respond more readily. You will notice the difference.
Believe it or not, emotions are contagious. If you don’t like what’s happening, keep your focus on what you want out of a conversation; don’t let your negative emotions billow into the conversation. If you’re feeling positive, let it flow!