How do you build relationships at work that work?
To be successful in today’s workplace, we need to excel in areas such as communication, collaboration, motivation, and adaptation to constant change. All these skills require the ability to understand and connect well with other human beings. (Gottman, The Relationship Cure, p. 24)
Fuzzy relationship building. I believe that when many of us think of building relationships at work we focus on big ideas such as trust, caring, friendship, communication, respect, etc. We then feel challenged to transform those qualities into actions. We may want to build relationships but we lack the skills or resources to do it in an effective and timely way. This is where the work of John Gottman comes in.
Beyond mushy. I have followed the work of Dr. Gottman over the past 15 years years and I have been impressed with his data and analysis about communication and relationships. John has the power to see the robust in the small. I was very impressed when I reently read, The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide for Building Better Connections with Family, Friends, and Lovers. I think the title and subtitle is a misnomer as great value can be derived from reading this book for the world of work and John uses many work based examples. Don’t let the title make you think this is just a mushy or romantic book about being in relationship.
A 10 year gem. This book is 10 years old yet still has great value today and maybe even greater value. We are so connected to social media yet at time struggle with connections with other people we encounter during our working day. Each of us makes daily choices that affect the quality of relationships we create and sustain at work.
A 5 step approach. Dr. Gottman outlines a 5 step approach to build better connections at work:
- Look at your bids for connection plus six bid busters and how to avoid them
- Discover your brain’s emotional command systems
- Examine your emotional heritage
- Sharpen your emotional communication skills
- Find shared meaning
Making a bid. I believe the power of the book is looking at “bids” and how we respond to them. A bid and response can occur in seconds and are the fundamental building block of all relationships. The bid is the fundamental unit of emotional communication. It could be a question, a gesture, a look or a touch. Anything that signifies to the other person your intention for connection.
Turning points. Following the bid is a positive or negative response from the other person. These response or turning points are the choices we make in response to bids. Generally there are 3 turns: we can turn toward, we can turn against, or we can turn away.
A 20 second assessment. Here are 2 simple questions to assess your relationship building skills at work:
- How many bids are you making at work each day?
- How are your responding to the bids from others?
Learn to bid. If you want to improve your relationships at work (or outside of work) I encourage you to read and study this 10 year old classic. All good relationships are built through a process of making and receiving succesful bids. Gottman’s research has demonstrated that people in happy relationships make bidding and responding to bids a high priority in their lives.
Bid 2011. I encourage you to make bidding your priority in 2011.
I bid you adieu.
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David Zinger is making more bids and turning towards. David works with organizations and individuals to improve employee engagement. His speaking, writing, coaching, and consulting focus on helping organizations and individuals increase employee engagement by 20%. David founded the 3575 member Employee Engagement Network. The network is striving to increase employee engagement 20% by 2020.
Contact David today to increase engagement where you work. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / Phone 204 254 2130 / Website: www.davidzinger.com)