February is relationship month. While many people may not rate relationships as important in the workplace, nothing is accomplished without the interaction of people in some fashion. To be proficient at business requires that we highly value relationships both within the company and with vendors and clients. Let me relate a story to illustrate my point.
‘The Patriot’ staring Mel Gibson is a powerful movie set in the time of the Revolutionary War. (Beware, it deserves its PG-13 rating for violent war scenes.) The protagonist Benjamin Martin reluctantly enters into the fight after his son is murdered by the British Col. Tavington. When Martin begins to reek havoc on the British forces, Tavington’s commits all his efforts to capturing Martin. Outwitted again and again, Tavington obsession takes him to General Cornwallis to get permission to use extreme means. Tavington wants to go after the family and friends of Martin until Martin turns himself in. Now this is the good part… Gen. Cornwallis forbids Tavington from using such tactics saying, “These people are our brothers, and we will want to do commerce with them after the war.”
When we get in disputes with people, co-workers, vendors, clients, or family, we can often focus on what we want and lose sight of the ongoing relationship. Our tendency is to dig in to our position and use any tactic – raising our voice, intimidating, manipulating, using anger, etc. – to accomplish our own objective. It comes out of a mindset that says, ‘Only one person can win this discussion, and by God, it will be me!’ A sister problem is that we feel justified in using whatever tactics necessary. That, however, is a zero sum game.
We need to take a broader view like Gen. Cornwallis. What is going to happen after the fight is over? Will we still be friends? What is the real cost of winning? Will I lose the friendly collegial efforts of a coworker? Will I end up losing the resources of a vendor, or future opportunities with a client? Will I shut down future openness and honesty that will make our business better?
Next time you find yourself in a disagreement, don’t stop with the question, ‘What do I want.’ Ask, ‘What do I want for the other person?’ Ask, ‘What do I want for our ongoing relationship?’ These questions will lift up your eyes to the possibilities of other winning options.
Wednesday Business Lunch • Every Wednesday (Sept – May) • NOON • Hunter 101 • $7 (First Time Free)
Pig Roast “Eggs”travaganza • March 13, 2016 • 11:00AM • Rice Family Farm
Marriage Matters Seminar • February 20, 2016 • Led by Ross Githens MS,L