Emotional intelligence can help you to collaborate. And collaboration can help you be more emotionally intelligent. One way to encourage collaboration is to ask the other person what they really want. And you need to tell them what you really want. If you can create a sense that both of you are a team facing a problem together, success is more likely. Your ultimate success in difficult situations will depend on whether you can keep both your needs and the other person's in mind and seek strategies that satisfy both of you.
Collaboration process: story of John and Bob
I have coached dozens of leaders and professionals through this process of clarifying what they both really want, and moving to more collaboration. Here is an example.
A client of mine, let's call him John, was angry that his colleague, Bob, kept bringing in a report late. John had to take numbers from Bob's report every Thursday and put them into a report that he gave to the president on Friday. The president used John's report to write a memo he sent out every Monday. Because Bob was late, John often had to work all Thursday night to get his report ready for the president. Being late with the president was not an option.
I asked John, "What have you done to date with Bob?"
John replied, "I keep telling him to get his blankety blank report in on time! He says OK, but a week or two later, he is back to being late."
Bill: "What do you really want here?"
John: "To get the report on time."
Bill: "Then why don't you complain to the president?"
John: "Because Bob and I work together on lots of other things, and I don't want to get him riled up and uncooperative."
Bill: So, in addition to getting the report on time, you want to keep a good working relationship with Bob, right?"
John: "Yes, that's right. So I keep my frustration to myself."
Bill: "Is there anything else you really want?"
John: Ponders. "Yes, for Bob to take responsibility for himself and not make me have to keep reminding and pushing him. For him to value timeliness and teamwork, just as I do."
Bill: "OK, you have now named three things you want in this situation:
-The report on time,
-A good working relationship with Bob,
-For Bob to take responsibility."
John: "No, that's it."
Bill: "In that case, you are in a better position to look for strategies that will get you what you really want. If you had settled for just number one, the report on time, your strategy would be flat, not good enough to get you two and three. Now call on your resourcefulness to craft a comprehensive strategy."
John: "Seems like a tall order. I don't have any great ideas."
Bill: "Want me to help? Two heads are better than one."
John: "Yes, indeed."
Bill: "What I recommend is to get Bob involved. You need to invite him to help solve this problem. I could assist you in setting this up and be present for your meeting with Bob. I think I can help you collaborate to come to a good outcome."
John: "Great idea. So you can kind of mediate this?"
Bill: "Exactly. I'll strive to have you each go for a win/win, to see what the other really wants and try for strategies that give you both what you really want. Can you do that? Ask what he really wants and keep that in mind, too?"
John: "Yes, I like collaboration. We are, after all, on the same team. These reports are important to both of us."
Bill: "Good. I think we can get a discussion in which you both see each other as on the same team trying to solve a problem of timeliness. I expect that three heads are better than two. We should be able to increase our resourcefulness and find a good strategy that meets both your needs."
As a result of this discussion, these two men were able to see together that an organizational problem was causing Bob to be late, not any personal problem of Bob's. Then they went to the correct person to solve that problem. A new computer system was developed that produced the needed information faster and satisfied both men's needs.
I have helped several clients through this process of clarifying what you really want and collaborating with others to get it.
Collaborative Process Summary
Having clarity of intention and collaborating with others results in more energy and resourcefulness. And that means more resilience in the face of problems.
Copyright © 2010, by William R. Murray, President of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC. Reprint rights granted to all venues so long as this article and by-line are printed intact with all links made live.
William R. Murray, MBA (Harvard), M.Div. (Yale), Master Certified Coach, founder of Eagle Alliance Executive Coaching, LLC in 1993, is a seasoned leader, executive coach, and corporate trainer
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