Monday, November 28, 2011

How to NOT Throw Out Work Relationships Like Thanksgiving's Leftovers

One of the most impactful books I have read is Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written in 1936, it's a classic in interpersonal relations and has helped millions of people develop stronger relationships at home and at work. Work is of particular interest here not simply because this is a career blog: the power of our relationships plays a significant role in our ability to perform well, professional reputation, and success. If you feel that your work relationships need, well, work, follow some of the principles that Mr. Carnegie espouses to freshen them up:

Don't criticize, condemn, or complain: Three big ones, right off the bat. It's human nature to do all of these things...but do we truly think about the damage we do to others or to ourselves when we do them? When we approach others with a modicum of kindness and let that kindness permeate itself through our behaviors we will find that our ability to deliver feedback-even the negative kind-is met with respect and thanks.

Give honest and sincere appreciation: When was the last time that you directed sincere appreciation toward someone at work, the kind that doesn't seem obligatory or an afterthought? Set a goal for yourself to give sincere appreciation ten times for every one time that you criticize. And when you give that appreciation, follow this formula: 1.) sincerely thank them for what they did; 2.) tell them specifically what you are thanking them for; and 3.) tell them how what they did positively impacted business results.

Get curious: This isn't directly a Carnegie principle, but one I think that he would appreciate. When we put ourselves in a place of curiosity around others-being in wonder instead of being at odds with them-we are able to better control our mood and our actions. Stay curious and interested in others and your behavior-and other's attitude about you-will change.

Thanksgiving leftovers can sit in your refrigerator and get stinky or they can be used to create some wonderful post-holiday dishes. Keep your work relationships from going bad by following these suggestions from a place of integrity and sincerity. Your work will be a feast of opportunities and success.

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