During a coaching conversation, leaders often bring up the topic of workplace relationship challenges. The ability to partner, connect, and build positive and productive relationships at work is critical to job and career success.
Clients who are struggling with relationship building are at either one end or the other of the continuum. At one end is a leader who lacks self-awareness and at the other end is a leader who is self-aware but wants to be more purposeful with their relationships. Regardless of which end you are on, here are seven suggestions to help you master the art of relationships:
- Listen more, talk less. Relationship masters are genuinely curious to understand what is being said—as well as not said—in a conversation. They listen intently in the moment instead of thinking about what they are going to say next.
- Reflect and process. Relationship masters process the conversation after the fact to draw conclusions about messages sent and received. What was the meaning of the discussion and what are the implications? How did the conversation end? Is the relationship in good standing or do I need to circle back to address any perceived tension?
- Match and mirror. Relationship masters are good connectors. They match their style to that of the other person participating in the conversation.
- Be humble. Relationship masters own their mistakes. They acknowledge when a relationship is not where it should be and work to discover what they can do to make it better.
- Embrace difficult conversations and conflict. Relationship masters are good at speaking their truth and can do so in a respectful and caring way. They do not walk away from a negative relationship. They clean it up by speaking openly and creating an environment for resolution.
- Be trustworthy and responsible. Relationship masters follow through on what they say they are going to do. They work hard to be consistent even when life happens and things get missed.
- Seek feedback. Relationship masters do not see themselves as having mastered anything—especially related to communication and people skills. They strive for continuous improvement, and they know it starts with getting feedback about themselves and their behavior.
This list could go on, because building effective relationships is an art, not a science. It is something best leaders continue to practice throughout their career. How do you see this play out in business? Do you have stories to share about people who are masters? I’d love to hear them.
Ken Blanchard says, “In the past, a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people. They no longer can lead based solely on positional power.”
When you become a master at building relationships, you create a bond of trust with the people around you. This contributes not only to your success as a leader but also to the success of your whole organization.
About the Author
Joni Wickline is Vice President, Professional Services with The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read Wickline’s posts as a part of Coaching Tuesday here at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.