Research shows that even with the best products and business practices, you still
need strong relationships to succeed in this marketplace. The following is a roadmap
to turn personality differences into positive business results.
Respect is at the heart of building business relationships. It is the glue that holds
together the functioning of teams, partnerships and managing relationships. (Up and
down, peer-to-peer, internally and externally). Respecting the right to differ is
a concept like apple pie and motherhood. We all agree with it but can we truly foster
The first step is to identify the specific areas of difference. Many people see things
in terms of rights and wrongs. "My way" is right and therefore "other ways" are wrong.
When a situation is viewed through this lens, a power struggle ensues. When, however,
a situation can be seen through the lens of difference, and a position is simply
a matter of opinion not fact, then cooperation and compromise is possible. Identifying
and understanding differences allows people to shift their position to one of compromise
and negotiation. The following steps are the roadmap to success:
Respect leads to accepting a person for what he/she is.
Accepting a person where they are, creates an environment of trust.
Trust, leads to a willingness to be open to:new opportunities, new collaborations,
new strategies, new ideas, new products.
Once you understand the above you can use the following list to avoid power struggles,
which drain energy from your effectiveness. Here is our top 10 list for type of
differences to look for.
1. Communication Styles. All people do not communicate in the same fashion. There
are many inventories available to identify differing styles. Once you understand
a person's style, this knowledge can lead to respect not conflict.
2. Non-Verbal Communication. All forms of communication must be considered. This
form of communication is more covert, but not any less important. Non-verbal communication
includes; body language, and tone. Non-verbal communication may differ from the
verbal. With this additional understanding of what is really being communicated
more effective collaboration is possible.
3. Learning Styles. People learn in different ways. When this concept is in the
forefront of understanding then communications can be geared to various styles and
will meet with greater success.
4. Differing Values. This concept can be a little tricky. While values need to be
identified and respected, there are times when conflicting values can be so different
that they cannot coexist on the same team. When mutually exclusive values are encountered,
collaboration is not recommended.
5. Boundaries. We all have different space needs and boundary needs. (Boundaries
are the limits you place on the behavior of others around you.) The first step is
to be aware of peoples' boundaries and then to use this understanding to approach
them respectfully. This new behavior often avoids conflict and strengthens relationships.
6. The Self. Self-respect is a vital and primary building block that supports the
formation of relationships. By being aware of your own needs and styles you create
a healthy foundation and the ensuing relationships are more solid.
The remaining categories are variations on the theme of Cultural Differences. The
need to understand, respect, and integrate diversity is a must in today's market.
7. Company Culture. Seasoned employees have come from different companies and each
company has a culture. This must be identified and respected in order to insure successful
integration into the current company. This concept is especially pertinent to mergers
8. Culture of the Country. With the global nature of our business, employees often
come from different countries, each with a different culture. In order to successfully
integrate multicultural differences, these differences must be understood, articulated,
9. Family Cultures. The influence of our backgrounds is great. Often we ignore
these differences because they "do not belong in the workplace". However the reality
is that people cannot keep who they are out of the work environment. The key here
is to recognize when the source of the conflict is based on someone's family/personal
issues. This allows you to choose not to engage in a battle that is based on their
10. Individual vs Team. Balancing the individuals needs with team needs is always
an interesting dilemma. However, if this healthy balance is not reached, problems
are certain to follow. Taking the time to identify and then address both individual
and team dynamics are at the core of this balancing act. Business success is directly
related to getting this right.