So, if you are reasonably conscientious about your health, you probably get dental checkups semi-annually and a general physical exam annually. If all goes well, you catch and treat any little problems before they become big problems. Maybe you should consider establishing a similar routine related to your co-worker relationships.
Think of yourself as one link in a supply chain that must be functioning effectively to ensure your customers get what they want from your business. For discussion purposes, let’s assume that you’re somewhere in the middle of the chain. Therefore, things related to satisfying your customers happen before you get involved in the fulfillment process and things happen after you do your part. Common sense dictates that one or more weak links in such a chain can and will cause significant problems. Unresolved negative issues or feelings between two members of a supply chain can easily create some incredibly weak links.
At a minimum during your periodic checkups, look at the person responsible for the step immediately before you in the chain and the person who handles the next step in the chain to see if your working relationship is healthy. If it is, great – you get a clean bill of health and all is as it should be.
However, anyone who has participated in a supply chain for any period of time knows that unresolved issues frequently fester and create negative feelings between co-workers. And it’s human nature to default to the “I’ll just ignore it and maybe it will go away” strategy. If you truly think that is the case, then ignore it. If not, think about it in terms of the reputation you want to foster within your organization. Do you want to be known as someone who avoids tough issues and leaves them unresolved, or someone who faces such issues fair-mindedly and head on?
Keep in mind that always getting your own way and resolving interpersonal problems are usually mutually exclusive goals. Genuine resolution requires that both parties embrace a give-and-take attitude. Marriages improve when both spouses adopt the attitude that any perceived “give-up” when working through a rough spot is not really a give-up to the other partner (as in, they won and I lost), rather, it is an investment in the ongoing health of the marriage (in other words, the bigger-picture entity) that will ultimately benefit both partners. Think big picture and treat any perceived give up to co-workers as a similar investment in your ongoing healthy working relationships.
In such situations, waiting for the other person to admit their wrongness and acknowledge your rightness is an ineffective strategy. Treat it like any health issue and stay focused on looking forward and resetting the relationship rather than re-litigating the past. Health care providers rarely spend much time and effort trying to get patients to un-smoke already smoked cigarettes, un-drink previously consumed booze or un-eat already eaten fried foods. They try to get you to focus on what you can do going forward to, in effect, reset your ability to function in a healthy manner.
Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through www.dmetraining.com.