Over the years, I have studied ways to help people work cooperatively with one another. A recent program helping marital partners create healthy ways to relate caught my attention. In his book, Communication Miracles for Couples, Jonathan Robinson identifies three key areas that make the difference. He describes them as “high octane gasoline that makes the human personality run.” These key areas are ACKNOWLEDGMENT, APPRECIATION, and ACCEPTANCE and they apply to great marriages and to great work relationships, too.
I had a family medical emergency today that interrupted my normal activities. I called my office to alert them that I could not be available for an afternoon conference call we had planned. I applied Robinson’s principles to this work situation. In considering ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, I recognized that my disruption would cause disruption for others and acknowledged their feelings of pressure in moving the schedule around.
When we think of APPRECIATION, how often do we feel it and not say it? How often do we give credit to the office staff who answer the phones, schedule our appointments, keep clients comfortable while they wait with water, reading material, soft music, etc.? Do we thank them for their promptness and preparation for our time with the client? Are we even aware of how different the experience could be if we didn’t have their help? Who else do we need to acknowledge in the course of our daily work for their contributions to the team? Our business relationships deserve acknowledgment and are special too.
I made a point to call the administrative assistant who had called me and thanked her for offering to reschedule clients tomorrow so that I could spend more time at home. I remember a cheer when I was a teenager in high school that went like this: “2, 4, 6, 8 — WHO DO WE APPRECIATE?” Let’s never forget the people who are helping us get the job done. Whether they are answering the phone, dusting the furniture, arranging the chairs, producing our reports, or planning and organizing meetings and conferences. It is so easy to forget to say “Thanks, you really make a difference around here.”
I feel that the most difficult of Robinson’s three keys is ACCEPTANCE. It challenges the inner core of our being to accept something that is different from what we normally consider to be our way of being and doing. The way I manage this when someone I work with says something I might not agree to is, “if it does no harm to me or someone else that I care about, I will accept that this is real for the person sharing.” This can create more openness and understanding of differences. It is important to hear another person out. Don’t let one word or uncomfortable movement cause a complete shutdown. We live in such a verbal culture that it is usually more difficult to listen than to talk. However, our listening says, “I appreciate you and am willing to hear you out.” Interruption gives a message that “What you are saying is not important to me. Be quiet and listen to me instead.” Getting that same message through repeated interruption gives the person a feeling that they are not accepted.
Think of the people that you work with who you feel the most comfortable around. Do you notice that they unknowingly practice some of these methods that increase acknowledgment, appreciation, and acceptance? Now, you can “consciously” acknowledge, appreciate and accept them, and others, in return.
With Warm Regards,