My 3 Un-Amigos

My three most challenging business partners last week look like my strongest allies going forward. What turns around uncooperative relationships? For each one of these, something different was the catalyst for positive change.

#1 Propose!

With the first leader, I expressed my thanks for my “opponent’s” partnership. I explained how poorly we were executing together from my view. Then I proposed one new factor in our arrangement. One tweak turned out to be very motivating. He asked me what quantities I recommended . . . and I almost answered the question. But I kept my mouth shut. I deferred to his expertise in his specialty area. He then suggested numbers far beyond what I would have put on the table.

Identify the situation. Compare its current reality in relation to its potential. Propose a solution!

#2 Listen!

Another leader laid out our relationship on one sparse sheet of paper. Four lines, four opportunities. We have very little overlap, very little that we can do for each other. As with the previous person, I laid out the best proposal that I could envision. He rejected it flatly. No irritation. He simply has a much better arrangement with someone else. He talked. I listened. He talked. I asked questions and took notes.

Two hours later . . . Eureka! By approaching this from a different frame of reference, I can equal or exceed his “much better arrangement.” I have very few ways in which I can partner with him. However, a new approach has alchemized copper into silver.

Again: Identify…. Compare…. Propose….
Don’t stop there: Listen, take notes, synthesize, reframe!

#3 Adopt!

The last guy has been my biggest headache. He’s a good guy. He’s smart and hard-working. And over a period of months I have learned that he will not work my way. I walked through all my steps. I identified the situation and compared the current scenario to our potential together. I proposed, he rejected. I listened and took notes.

I asked him, “What can I do to make you successful?” He told me. His solution is not the way I work. It’s not the way I want to work. But it is the way I will choose to work with him.

Continuing the current path would hurt me more than it would hurt him. Following his path has potential to benefit both of us. I am adopting his solution. I can’t wait to see how we progress!

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About Ben Unseth

Executive Director at Project Understanding (2014-2017), social service agency in Ventura, CA
This entry was posted in communication, leadership and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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