Communication. Connection. Collaboration. Culture.
These four C’s are a vital part of my work in helping entrepreneurs and leaders. The need is great. Higher human performance in the workplace is stymied by people’s inability or unwillingness to accurately read each other and situations. We used to simply refer to these things as “soft skills,” even though they’re very hard for many people. Today, a more sophisticated term for it is EQ or emotional intelligence. Pick your poison.
If we can’t improve our communication then I don’t know how we can improve our relationship with the truth. It’s too easy to dismiss alternative points of view or opinions that differ from ours. We rather love our assumptions and blind spots. Of course, they aren’t blind at all to us.
Listening is a prerequisite to understanding. First, we must learn to listen with a favorable bias for the truth, which isn’t always absolute. It’s sometimes contextual. That is, I have a truth that is comprised of who I am and the circumstances of my life. Those are unique to me. Yes, you and I may share some common components, but we’re still very different. Not all truths are matters of somebody being right and somebody being wrong. These kinds of truths just “are.”
Our connection fosters our ability to work together and accomplish more than either of us could alone. But first we must understand each other and that’s impossible without effective communication.
You can’t reason with unreasonable people.
Still we often try. I fancy myself to be a fast learner, but I confess that I find myself still trying to help people understand things. Sometimes these people are unreasonable. I’m learning how to better value my time and stop wasting it trying to reason with unreasonable people.
CEOs, entrepreneurs and leaders often lament similar feelings as they work to engage people, convey some important initiative for which they want high engagement — but they find some people wrecking the process. Unreasonable people.
I like to think we can convert people, but maybe not. You have to decide for yourself if the person is worth the effort. Some may be worth it, others not. You know which ones are which. Help those who can be helped. Fire the ones who can’t.
Connection doesn’t look identical to each of us. But it’s obvious when it’s happening and when it’s not. As a leader, you must judge whether people are putting forth the effort to connect or not. My personal decision as a leader is to not tolerate people who won’t work toward connection. Get on board, or get off the boat. I’m not interested in passengers. I want sailors willing to help serve each other. You decide how you most want to roll.
Leaders can get this stuff out of order and find themselves frustrated. For example, the boss gathers a team, throws them in a conference room and then tasks them to work together on a project. An important project.
The problem is there are people on the team who don’t communicate with any regard for the truth, except how they see it. As a result, there’s not any solid connection, but the leader leaps straight to collaboration, then wonders why it doesn’t work as well as he hoped. Cart before the horse syndrome. You have to get communication and connection right. And it’s why this topic took two little episodes to discuss — truth matters.
The truths that are absolute, with compelling evidence. And the truths that each individual holds based on their personality and circumstances. Both require more deeply understanding.
How do you make intolerant people tolerant?
You don’t. Well, to be fair, I don’t know how. My choice, as an organizational leader, has always been to give some effort to convert them, and if that fails, to get rid of them.
Empathy is easier for some than others. It’s easy for me so I don’t quickly or harshly judge people who struggle to understand others. I will quickly judge somebody’s unwillingness to give others due consideration though. That’s inexcusable. That’s a person whose relationship to the truth will never be appropriate or proper.
All of this speaks to one fundamental issue that can cripple your business or your organization’s ability to excel – close-mindedness.
Your business depends on success in influence and persuasion. I grew up in sales knowing that the adage is often proven true, “Salespeople are often the easiest people to sell.” It may be because salespeople respect the ability to influence and persuade. Great salespeople know the real key is to serve people by providing as much value as possible. Great salespeople make a solid connection with prospects. If they don’t, the prospect never becomes a customer. Sales is a performance-based activity. Communication fosters connection and leads to collaboration when the prospect agrees to become a customer. If you’re in sales, you know when you’re failing.
And great salespeople are terrific listeners. They want to help their customers get what they want. The only way to find out what customers want is to ask, then listen.
Young people entering the workplace will often ask me how they can get ahead or how they can be noticed. In an Instagram world where you can go to the fanciest hotel in town and take a selfie in the lobby, fooling people into thinking you’ve got a room there for a week…authenticity and connection are lost. My answer likely disappoints: help your boss by doing whatever you can to make their life easier. Do everything in your power to serve your boss.
That’s the bottom line to all this talk about our relationship with the truth. It’s about OTHERS. It’s about listening to others. Giving consideration to others. Understanding that your perspective may not be the only valid one. Learning that you may not even have the right dots connected. Allowing that you, and others, have room to grow and improve.
How’s your relationship with the truth? Let me study your relationship with others and I’ll likely be able to give you an honest, accurate answer!
By working on our selfishness we work on ourselves. By serving others, we’re best serving ourselves. It’s not just some fanciful noble notion. Practical. Real-world. Right. Helping others excel lifts us up. It puts us in closer touch with the truth, too.
The logic isn’t tough to follow. When we put in the work to serve others we expand our circle of people willing to help us. People who influence us to achieve more These people also challenge us to see things in ways we wouldn’t otherwise consider.
We gain the benefit of seeing things through our eyes, and the eyes of all these people. We gain the benefit of hearing things through our ears, and the ears of all these people. We learn not only from our experiences but now we learn from the experiences of others.
The power of our lives moves from us (singular) to the power of the collective (us plus all the others we learn to trust). It’s exponentially increased power available only to those brave enough, vulnerable enough and confident enough to give of themselves and to accept the giving of others.
Isn’t it time you put yourself in a better room, a space where you can flourish? Sure it is…if you want to improve your relationship with the truth. And if you really want to grow.
Are you an entrepreneur in the United States? Do you operate a company where you’re close enough to the work that you don’t bristle at being called “an operator?” Then I want to ask if you’re open-minded enough to consider a powerful growth vehicle – a vehicle with an intense focus on communication, connection, collaboration, and culture. It’s a peer advantage group of just 7 entrepreneurs who are willing to come together twice a month to listen, share, learn, understand and grow. Men and women who are open to hearing what others think so they can improve their vision, and hopefully rid themselves of blind spots that can hinder their leadership and their business success.
I’m enrolling entrepreneurs today at BulaNetwork.com/apply. Details are at ThePeerAdvantage.com. Yes, this is a paid for peer advisory group with a high-value proposition. The cost is nominal for the return I know you’ll receive. Check out all the details at ThePeerAdvantage.com, or jump start things and give me a call at (214) 736-4406.
This isn’t networking. It’s about building your business and your leadership within your business. It’s a safe space where we can share ideas, experiences, and issues. Safe. Secure. Confidential. The perfect soil for high growth. I look forward to hearing from you.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!