Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in our lives gave us a how-to manual for themselves? The guide could tell us everything about what they like to do, how they work best, what some of their weaknesses are, and what behaviors set them off.
Just think about how much miscommunication could be avoided, not to mention the joy that would come from spending your life being treated just the way you want.
Ask For What You Need
Although we’re a long way away from having this eutopia for everyone, I did recently work with an executive coaching client on exactly this! Having just taken on the role of CEO, he was worried about how to manage a large new team and create a high performing culture. We agreed that creating and sharing a personal user’s manual would be a great tool for him to start to develop trust in these critical relationships.
Not only did he embrace this idea, he created an amazing personal user’s manual. It included all kinds of info to help his new staff understand what he expects of them, how he would like to work together, and his preferred way to handle conflict. He was even brave enough to share his own weaknesses!
Imagine what a gift this was for his employees, helping them be aware of what he wants and needs from them right from the start. Instead of needing to figure out out by trial and error.
Not sure you are ready to create your own personal users manual? Well, I definitely understand if you fear that your colleagues would think you were crazy if you even mentioned such a thing.
So what can you do instead? Surprisingly, a lot.
Read the Signs
As I talked about last week, it’s important to be aware of yourself and your own needs. But once you’ve done that, you can become more aware of other people and their needs. Awareness of others and thoughtfulness about their needs can go a long way.
Notice how people behave in meetings, be more aware of how they show up, how they react in different situations, and how they naturally offer input and feedback. Try to find small opportunities to give feedback on your preferred style of working together. And seek out proactive communication every chance you get.
For example, if you notice that some of your coworkers never speak up in meetings – but often have good insights later – encourage them to email you if they think of something in the next couple days. This takes the pressure off needing to have a quick answer.
It’s also a great idea to offer people information in different ways, such as a written AND verbal agenda, as we all learn and process in our own unique way. And don’t be afraid to ask people their preferences about getting feedback, engaging in group projects, and collaborating with team members.
Does it mean you have to give everyone what they want all the time? Definitely not! But understanding how people communicate best – or how they are most comfortable dealing with conflict – can go a long way towards creating happy employees and a high performing team.
Until the whole world is kind enough to come with their own user’s manual, we all need to the best we can to understand those around us, and help them understand us as well!