Today I’ve been sitting at my PC for longer than I dare say. I’ve started this newsletter three times and continually been distracted. Initially I was going to focus on ‘words’ and talk about the importance of choosing the right ones and saying them at the right time to create empathy and inspire others. Words such as we, our and us instead of I, you and your. And this all came from reflecting on some of the interactions I’ve had with people who have overused the ‘I’ word. Instead of coming across as powerful and knowledgeable they’ve created levels of distrust and anxiety and seemed more egocentric than focused on the good of the team. They’re all about their own importance whilst the going is good, but the word then quickly turns from ’I’ to ‘you’ when situations begin to nosedive with the blame all landing as far away from their doorstep as possible! When we use the ‘we’ word, even sublimely it creates a feeling of ‘we’re all in this together’. If I’m continually talking about what you are going to do and how you need to review your resources to achieve it, I’ve created a very different environment. You will feel that you’re more on your own than a part of a team. It might be me who is steering the ship but we all get the best results from feeling a part of it.
But I had a feeling that you would get my drift on that so as I drove home from the garage I was reflecting on the win/win situation I’d just experienced, so I thought I’d write about them instead. You see it wasn’t until recently that I questioned why people wouldn’t always want to achieve a win/win situation. (My definition being creating circumstances where everyone achieves a positive outcome from whatever you are discussing or dealing with at that specific time). Then a colleague of mine pointed out that although ‘win/win’ may be my natural default mode there are times when I don’t strive for a win/win because it isn’t in my best interest. As I reflected on his words, I realised just how right he was (again)!
So let me explain. To get a true win/win situation both parties need to cooperate and benefit from the circumstance they find themselves in at that time. When they achieve this type of resolution, everyone feels satisfied and therefore tensions are reduced and more often than not relationships improved too. And in general this is probably what we all want to see. However, there may be times when you don’t feel that an ‘I win/ you win’ is the right answer. What if you’re new to a relationship and there are lots of uncertainties; things that you know more about and things that they know more about. You may find that having an ‘ I lose/ you win’ situation now and again is a better scenario. By accommodating the needs of the other party, over an issue that isn’t a top priority for you, will not only help to facilitate better foundations for your relationship but it will help the other party see that you can give as well as take from the scenario which may stand you in better stead for the issues where you feel really passionate.
Again in an ‘I lose/ You lose’ situation, it may look like a horrible place to be on paper, but in reality you may need to give yourself space to either think about the situation or walk away from it altogether. By using this avoidance strategy you may save face for everyone. Finally there’s the ‘I win/ you lose’ scenario. If you’re finding yourself using this strategy it’s unlikely that you’re trying to build a long-term relationship with this party as taking this approach will often destroy any goodwill. The only time I would suggest using this method is you need to make a quick and take decisive action eg in our workshops we often say that when you hear the fire bell ringing, you get out first and ask questions later. Again in an ‘I lose/ You lose’ situation, it may look like a horrible place to be on paper, but in reality you may need to give yourself space to either think about the situation or walk away from it altogether. By using this avoidance strategy you may save face for everyone. Finally there’s the ‘I win/ you lose’ scenario. If you’re finding yourself using this strategy it’s unlikely that you’re trying to build a long-term relationship with this party as taking this approach will often destroy any goodwill. The only time I would suggest using this method is you need to make a quick and take decisive action eg in our workshops we often say that when you hear the fire bell ringing, you get out first and ask questions later. Of course with any of these scenarios you need to have courage of your convictions, but remain considerate of the needs of the other party.
As you can imagine, I can wax lyrical about this subject as we cover it in a number of our workshops but then I was distracted again. Out of the corner of my eye I could see lots of movement in the garden. As I looked out I thought in actual fact the word I should be using in this newsletter is WOW. When we’re chasing around and have 101 things to do, we can often take the little things for granted in life. Looking out of my window into this special area we have created is always uplifting but perhaps more so than ever today. Even after all that rain over the weekend, the flowers are trying their best to raise their heads and look smiley. The Sweet peas are all starting to bloom and smell absolutely gorgeous outside my office door. As I type this, there’s a Nuthatch hanging upside down in the bird feeder; he must have a family close by as he’s here most days now. There are some little Blue Tits pecking away at insects around the outside lights of my office and a fat baby Robin is sitting on one of the benches wondering what to do next. A flock of beautiful pink and grey Long-tailed Tits have descended on the water fountain and they’re tweeting away as if excited about their find. There’s also a tiny little field mouse playing in the wood chippings, which I’m quite happy to watch from here, but not so happy when Maverick brings one of them in to see us on an evening! Finally there are a couple of squirrels chasing one another through the trees. Together with the bunting, little lanterns and garden furniture dotted around, it really is a lovely little haven and one that feel so blessed to look out on every day.
So I’m going to leave you with that vision and three things to think about.
- Firstly, listen to the language you use with your people whether they are family, friends or colleagues and see whether you can be more engaging, involving and empathetic in the words you choose.
- Secondly, think about whether it really is necessary to win all your battles, or will a little accommodation of other people’s needs build a stronger relationship for the future.
- And thirdly, look for the ‘wows’ around you and drink them up. I know we’re always been told that we should make the most of every moment, but that’s in play as well as in work. Life is very short and this has been reinforced once again this week by the passing of my lovely cousin, Andrew. He was an absolute honey who has been taken from us and his young family far too early. So in keeping with ‘stop and smell the roses’, I’ve just been to the garden centre to find a rose bush with the most wonderful scent and have planted it in a big pot as you enter our house. Every time I leave and return home, it will not only be a reminder of Andrew but also to remind me to enjoy and appreciate the things arounds me.