Mary Kolbenschlag
July 12, 2017

Meeting in the Middle

Turn on any news channel, read any article, everything seems to be explosive and polarizing. No one seems to be listening to the other side, or meeting in the middle. Key word ‘listening’, and then shifting.

I was blessed to have a dad who was a moderate, a middle guy, and it was key to his success. He performed ‘land swaps’ between the University, the city, and the ranchers where I grew up in New Mexico. Everyone had a vested interest and he worked hard to make it happen. Notice I didn’t say ‘make everyone happy’. That wasn’t the goal. Nor is it in BUSINESS. Think about the last time you were upset at work. What was the issue? How was it resolved?

Here’s how to stay in the middle and succeed better co-workers (and family and friends)

Remove the emotion! I know it’s hard. But let’s face it, most work issues aren’t life or death. They are NOT worth losing sleep over, and definitely aren’t worth losing relationships over. When you’re feeling frustrated, genuinely shift your perspective to the other person’s view. This will not only help you come to an agreement sooner but it’ll definitely lower your blood pressure. I’m not talking about being a door-mat, but really, save your firm convictions and views for the big decisions. Which are far and few between. And! No one wants to work with someone who is always reacting!

Remember the big picture. We’re all trying to get to the end result, the big deal, the end of the project, the final 10 yards. Be a team player and put your ego aside. You will be remembered and appreciated for it (especially during promotion time). You may think that rising to the top means you’re the voice that stands out. To management, you are the 10% they are spending 90% of their time frustrated over.

Bring SOLUTIONS not PROBLEMS to your team and your managers. I’ve said this a thousand times, YOU likely know the solution better (or at least have some ideas on how to fix it). Lay out the options, let your busy boss choose, or decide together. They will respect you, they will trust you (AKA leave you alone to do your job), and you will save yourself from executing their

Address issues or concerns early. When something isn’t working. Bring it up early but in a constructive solution oriented way…see point 3 on how.

Lastly, remember there ARE times for taking a polarizing position. Used sparingly, when you do take that hard-line position, people will take you seriously, and likely follow. That is where innovations occur!

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