We approach colleagues with our requests, suppliers with our briefs, managers with our answers, friends with our stories, spouses with our needs and plans and even tellers with our shopping baskets.
Any idea what your approach looks and feels like to others? Perhaps an ‘Approach Audit‘ would benefit us. Ask others what words go through their mind when they see you coming. Analyse the words going through your own mind as you approach others. What are the labels you have been given and that you give to others? Frustrating, bossy, fun, talkative, know it all, legend, incompetent, wise, accommodating, superior, inferior… you get the drift. These labels affect our approach.
Yesterday we asked some hard questions of a team struggling with strained relationships. The CEO, senior leaders, line managers and factory staff gathered in one room for an honest conversation. The CEO set the tone, requesting honesty and reminding us all of the greater goal. Then we asked hard questions. How much racism exists? What are the levels of trust between all of you? Do you even like each other? Whilst we uncovered some powerful insight, one of the key issues we kept circling back to was how staff were interacting with each other. Team mates were left feeling demoralised after conversations and interactions, the underlying feeling being ‘I have no value other than my ability to perform my daily tasks’.
Their fix was simple in theory but difficult in practise. Just show some respect. Remember you are talking to a human being, not a machine turning our widgets.
Humanise your approach.
So how do we progress?
1. Think Human.
You would like others to do the same with you. Everyone you approach has their own battles, their own history, their own reasons for doing things. As soon as we place negative or degrading labels on the heads of others, a dehumanising approach follows.
2. Challenge your stereotypes.
Spend some time getting to know the people you approach on a personal level. More often than not our assumptions are dealt with when we uncover the truth about those around us. The reality is we have so much in common and are not so different after all.
3. Remember we need each other.
We need each other to achieve our goals and ‘make the world go round’. Think ‘we’ and not ‘I’ in the pursuit of success.
The quality of our lives, our organisations, teams and families are greatly impacted by the quality of our relationships with those who we share those contexts with. Improve the quality of those areas by investing time into building healthy relationships. That investment starts with your approach.