In a recent article, which casually presented Quantum Physics as a metaphor for Coaching, I proclaimed, with the confidence of Jimmy Neutron that Relationships ARE Communication. Bold?
Relationships ARE Communication.
Anyway, it seemed to stick (or collide, or accrete if one is to assume I have learnt anything from Quantum Physics) and generate some discussion around the science and psychology of relationships, and in turn it got me thinking about how we effectively develop and grow people in organisations.
Do we need to train people in Relationships? If so, how?
Since work began (since forever) we have been very focussed, and very good, at spending a lot of time, attention and money on the particles, the component parts in organisations, us, the people. We’ve all dedicated weeks of our lives in training, conferences and courses learning how to absorb the skills we need to perform and deliver our responsibilities better. To be optimal, to be productive, to be better at what we do. Whether that be in a carpeted, coffee and caked conference facility in Chorley or in front of a screen skipping through an online Anti Bribery training course. Either way, us getting better at the stuff we do, is what makes the organisation better at what it does. Is that still true?
I myself, even now, as startup founder, freelancer and solopreneur find myself seeking out the next level of professional development or training, which is ultimately just learning someone else’s theory or idea. We seek to charge the particles with data, with knowledge, with power.
Well, perhaps we want to reevaluate where we invest our time and our resources given that, even in my world, 65% of startups fail because the relationship between the co-founders breaks down. You know, no amount of money or purpose or even free food can compensate for a poisonous relationship at work.
In real life, we know that it is the quality of our relationships that determines the quality of our lives, but are we so confident in saying that the quality of our relationships at work determines the actual quality of our work and our overall ability to succeed?
Unlike performance, relationships are harder to measure, harder to sustain and harder to repair.
At the same time we all appear to be wanting to identify as a Human, while simultaneously rushing to AI to improve everything.
We also want an enormous amount of flexibility from work, so that it will adapt itself to the particularities of our life. Simultaneously we need our work to be attentive to our physical and emotional well-being and want our jobs to help us find a sense of purpose and meaning in what we do. (while we secretly cheat on them searching for something better).
It’s no surprise then, that currently there seems to be some creaking and groaning going on in the system. Could the cries for corporate change be soothed with something softer? Something simpler?
Our professional lives demand an entirely new skill set for navigating this relationship awareness at work, and by relationship awareness I mean:
Our ability to connect with others
How we establish trust and overcome betrayal
How we engage in conflict or avoidance
How we communicate to elicit curiosity and collaboration.
Very recently, while deciding on some text for a proposal, a very dear friend and mentor said to me ‘lose the word ‘relationships’ it will put people off’. She was so right!
Organisations are really good at being focused on production, efficiency, processes, performance, the bottom line. Relationships are considered soft. Soft skills.
But I think people are waking up to the realisation that relationships are fast becoming the new bottom line.
In order to optimise this valuable and overlooked skill, first we need to find a way to ‘language’ it. Bring it into the boardroom with neutrality that doesn’t alienate, yet emotional validity that doesn’t hijack content.
So, think about your relationships at work. Which ones keep you awake at night? What are the relationships that generate, or take, the most of your energy?
And now, how can you get help with them? Where do you go? Where are the resources that are unbiased, confidential, positive and have the relevant content you need to get better at them?
Answers on a postcard please, I could do with some of that!