The prevailing theory, as far as I’m aware, is that a lot of human brain evolution can be traced to humans needing complex brains to navigate interpersonal relationships once they were no longer spending all of their time searching for food.
After a few years of navigating these things myself in both large and small organizations, I think this is pretty plausible. This navigation is hard. I’m not expert, but here are some things I’ve learned.
- Be Authentic
In order for people to work with you they have to know YOU. Showing them anyone else doesn’t help them do this. Also, if they feel they don’t know you then they can NEVER feel they trust you.
Understand things from other peoples’ points of view. Communicating AT someone doesn’t work as well as communicating WITH someone. Words alone are puffs of air. Communicating must be something done back and forth until everyone has the same understanding.
Be a Servant
Conceptualizing yourself as someone who is adding value by helping others achieve their goals is better than conceptualizing yourself as using others to reach your goals. It leads to a better, more fruitful relationships with people. Do you want to be thought of as someone else’s tool? Neither do they. By the way, you’ll have to follow through on this and ACTUALLY help them reach their goals. This isn’t some sort of manipulation tactic. It’s a means to build your character.
Be Without Ego
If there is a piece of the picture you don’t have, getting that piece is your responsibility before making a decision. Know what you don’t know, because the only good way to make a decision is with all of the information and people who can give you an accurate picture of the problem and help you explore potential solutions. You don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. You just need the people with the right smarts IN the room WITH you. Learn from others.
Be with Purpose
You have to understand the why of something in order to know the best way to do it (or to decide NOT to do it). Even if you think you know why, ask others what they think and make sure everyone has a well rounded understanding of the purpose behind what’s being done…especially you.
Bonus. Work with those who practice #1-#5 above
You don’t always get to choose your team, but if you can move a team toward practicing the above then you’ll be able to achieve things in a way that leverages everyone’s strengths.
Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate your time, and I hope I was able to help you steer your interpersonal ship. I’m looking forward to any thoughts you could share with me to help me steer mine.