While on vacation, I had dinner with another couple who have been married for over 50 years. Their life journey together has included having a child, adopting another one, illnesses, grandchildren, and other joys and sorrows along the way. What intrigued me about their marriage is that they appear to be very different people, however, their views on their relationship are the same which is most important. These tips can be applied for a better personal relationship but also can be used in business.
- You have to tell people what you need. If your birthday is coming up and you want a particular gift, you have to tell the other person exactly what you want (you may have to tell them more than once!). This is the same in business; managers must be clear on what they expect of their subordinates and need to let them understand how their goals fit into the overall strategic plan. A good way to accomplish this is for each department member to take the DISC behavioral assessment which will identify how they and others behave. By being more sensitive to one’s behavior and others, communications are improved and there is a more cohesive work environment.
- You can’t rely on technology to always get your message across. The couple I mentioned before has tea every afternoon together. The wife admitted that at first she talked mostly about problems but over time, she valued the discussions they had about more positive things that happened that day or plans for the future. Although business moves very fast, it is imperative that managers and colleagues make the time to have one-on-one conversations periodically. These “coffee cup dates” can reveal problems but also can identify opportunities. It is also hard to judge the emotions of another through texting and emailing; inflections in the voice can reveal more than any spoken word.
- You need to take ownership when you have made a mistake and say you are sorry. Recently I confronted someone who I felt was not treating me well. I made some very strong statements and put the person on the defensive. Although I still feel strongly about some of this, I realized that my approach and my lack of sensitivity to the other person was wrong so I reached out to them to say I was sorry. We all make mistakes and it is important to confess to them as soon as possible and try to make amends. Unfortunately there have been a few news articles lately that give the impression it is better to sweep it under the carpet and hope not to get caught then to fess up but in the end, most are found out. Not only does the business suffer but the morale and trust of the employees decreases and may never be recaptured.
Although these ideas seem very basic, it is imperative to come back to them periodically and take a temperature check to see if they are being implemented or not. Obviously a 50+ year relationship is an amazing achievement so if these two people live by these ideas, it makes sense for business leaders to follow them as well which can result in a better working environment and greater profits.