You Get What You Give: How We Help Clients Turn Around Challenging Workplace Relationships

You Get What You Give: How We Help Clients Turn Around Challenging Workplace Relationships

You’ve heard the saying “you get what you give” right? Have you experienced the power of putting it into practice at work? Here’s one example of how we help clients turn around challenging workplace relationships: 

Recently I was coaching one of my most favorite clients – all of my clients are my favorite, of course, but this one has such an earnest desire to not just be a good leader, but to be a truly great leader, which makes my job even more of a pleasure! Anyway, he was sharing about a situation he has been struggling with for a while: Someone superior to him doesn’t like him, seems to actively distrust his leadership skills, and has the power to damage his career.  They have history, and my client is on the receiving end of what feels like a constant barrage of emails demanding action, answers, and information.  He feels like the superior is out to get him and was asking me how to get ahead of “whatever damage is about to be done”.  It is important, and perhaps even time critical, for my client to turn around this challenging workplace relationship.

I asked him a few questions:

  1. Other than email, how and when do you communicate with this individual?
  2. What do you respect about this individual?
  3. What do you value about this individual?

His answers revealed very little communication outside of the emails and, after some objective pondering, he articulated multiple things he respected and actually valued about this person. Perfect! Now we have a starting point…

First, however, I had a few more questions for him. Our dialogue went like this:
Me: Are you perceiving a power struggle between the two of you?

Client: Yes, for sure.

Me: Who do you predict will win this power struggle?

Client: Uh-oh, I think I see where you’re heading.

Me:  OK, good.  Just a few more questions. How would it feel to have this superior as your ally and staunch supporter?

Client: That would be great, but impossible.

Me: What do you imagine your communication would be like if he were your ally and supporter?

Client: Our communication would be easier, more regular.  Probably voice-to-voice, and often face-to-face. It would be a lot better.

Me: Is it possible this individual has his own pressures and concerns, and gaining confidence in you would relieve some of his pressure?

Client: Well, yes, that is probably true… wait!  <Aha moment!>  If I prove myself capable, he’ll get off my back!

Me: HHMMM, and might even become your ally and staunch supporter.
So, what can you do to proactively communicate with him and help develop his trust in you? You already mentioned several things you value and respect about him; what might you do to help him feel valued and respected by you?

This stellar client of mine had a pretty radical mindset shift, and quickly put together a simple action plan to turn this workplace relationship around.  He would begin proactively communicating face-to-face, checking-in to see if there is anything the superior needs from him, and seeking the superior’s input with regard to priority items and timelines.  All of the sudden, my client realized he was expecting something, from his superior, that he himself had not considered giving: value, respect and trust.

The “you get what you give” principle is not just a nice theory, it is the truth. When we think about it relative to challenging workplace relationships, it helps us realize new perspectives and more effective behaviors.

When genuinely applied, the principle turns around workplace relationships like a magic potion, and becomes a complete win/win for all involved.  Being authentic is the key; anything less will burn you faster than gasoline on a lit match.

If you are motivated to improve a challenging work relationship, begin with a few easy action items around this simple formula:

  • If you want to be valued by someone, value him.
  • If you want to be respected by someone, offer him your respect.
  • If you want to be trusted, show you are trust worthy and offer your trust.

For more information on turning around challenging workplace relationships, call us today at 407-926-2451.