What you enjoy about managing your team is that they are wonderful, creative, interesting and talented. 

The challenge can be, that they are human… and so are you.  

So how can you make some changes in your communication style to get more of what you want and less of what you don’t want in your relationships at work? 

I’m guessing you’d like less of this;

  • Feeling your professional expertise is devalued.  
  • Team members that crumble when you make suggestions.  
  • Staff members that take your notes personally and/or argue with you.  

And more of this;

  • Respect as a manager.   
  • Mutual trust and understanding. 
  • Clear boundaries and expectations.

Have you ever wondered why you want what you want?  

The answer to this question may seem obvious, but we are all unique.  My “why” will be different than your “why.”  The first step is to be clear about your why.  

What is meaningful for you about being respected as a professional, having clear boundaries and mutual trust and satisfaction?  This may be more important to you than other aspects of your professional relationships. But why?

And once you know your “why,” how do you get it?

Shifting how we communicate is one way to get what we want in terms of our relationships at work.

Working with “Challenging” People

The first thing to do is to address the notion that someone is challenging or difficult.  As difficult and challenging as your team member may seem, thinking of them in this way, is counter-productive.

Instead, consider this a communication issue.  The communication is challenging and difficult.  That can be fixed.  The employee is simply being the employee and you are simply being you.  

Now that we know we are simply having a communication challenge that can be fixed, here’s the fun part…

Coach me Quick Process to take your relationships at work from Confrontation to Collaboration:

 Think of a communication challenge you are having right now.

  • How do you react when the challenge happens?  What happens inside you when the challenge occurs.  Maybe you are being questioned or your ideas are being resisted or challenged.  Perhaps your direct report crumbles when you give gentle feedback? What are your thoughts, feelings and reactions when the challenges occur?  

Knowing your reactions ahead of time will help you make choices in the moment to respond rather than react. Do you take it personally? Do you get angry? Do you fight or flight?  Take a moment to write down some immediate thoughts about your reactions.

  • What questions might you ask? What could you be curious about if it didn’t feel like your work or professional integrity was being questioned? What questions could you ask in the moment to learn more about your direct report’s perspective?  
  • Do more listening than talking. What seems to be most important to the person you are dealing with? If you were in his/her shoes, what might be most important to you?
  • Choose a new perspective.  If you chose a different way to view this employee, what would that be?  How could choosing a different view help you to deal with him/her more effectively?
  • Look for common ground and build on it.  Find areas of agreement about the work itself and the process.  What is working well? 

Communication is like a huge ship moving in one direction.  A ship’s course can be moved by a tiny tug boat.  The shifts that you make in your communication with your team members are like tiny tugboats.  Small but mighty.

Can you think of any tiny tug boats you could utilize right now to change the course of your communication ship?

Chugging along in L.A.,