How To Use Vulnerability To Improve Your Office Relationships

      How often do you feel your leadership team could be so much more effective and dynamic if only people were able to take more risks in their conversations with each other? ...more challenging the status quo, or dealing with a repetitive issue, or collaborating to solve a problem...?

      Last week during a coaching session, the VP Logistics of an international company shared a struggle she was having with the VP Production.

      Their teams need to work together, and the strained relationship is having a negative impact on the teams. 

      When I asked specifically what the other leader was doing she hesitated.  "I don't want to seem like I am complaining or backstabbing because that is what she does to me," she said. 

      The next question I asked was "How do you know she does that to you? Is that an assumption you are making? 

      Where are you getting that information?" and finally, "Have you spoken with her about this issue?"

      As we continued to discuss some action this VP could take to check out her assumptions and build a better relationship with her teammate, she got really quiet. 

      "What's the quiet about?" I asked her.  "It feels too vulnerable to have the conversation with her when I don't trust her.  What if I try to talk to her and she doesn't take it well?"

      At this point I asked, "What's the worst thing that can happen? If you try, you at least have a chance of resolving and building something better.

      ...and if you don't try you will be in the same place you are right now, six months from now."

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      How often do you have an issue with a fellow team member and harbor the 'bad feelings', perhaps making assumptions about that other person's intentions towards you?

      How does that impact the way you work with that person?

      With their team?

      Being vulnerable is hard for most people... takes courage, especially if you haven't built a trusting relationship with that other person. The reality is that someone has to start the conversation in order for two people to build a better relationship.

      Brene Brown said Charles Feltman had the “most beautiful definition of trust,” which was “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”

      Who do you need to have a vulnerable conversation with to build more trust? 

      If it goes well how could it ramp up you and the other person's success?

      Take a risk and take the first are some suggestions you might try:

      1. Book a time to speak with the person with the sole purpose of working on the relationship, not tackling a current issue or going over a task list.

      2. Start the conversation by sharing your intention..."My intention in having this conversation is a better working relationship, or check in with you about what I can do to improve our working relationship", etc. Launching into what is pissing you off about the person will only serve to put them on the defensive and make them less open to what comes after your first line.

      3. State the result you would like to see.  If you and that person were working together well, what is your vision for what this would look like and the positive impact for both of you?

      4. Speak from the heart. If you are nervous, it's okay to say you are nervous having the conversation. It makes you human and there is a higher probability the other person will meet you on the human level. 

      We would challenge you to move through your fear and have that conversation you have been longing to have.

      Speak from your heart and paint a picture for the other person of the great relationship you would like to have with them.

      Let us know how you make out and please post any additional tips you have below for making it a successful conversation!


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