You are a key player in an important business development project. You bring crucial experience to this select team. Each person reports directly to the president; however, you are personally accountable, and your performance objectives are tied to the outcome.
As part of your planning, you’ve identified strategic and functional relationships that must be initiated, strengthened or supported. The most perplexing one is a colleague you have worked with for nearly three years. It is a relationship where you are walking on eggshells way too often.
You are used to high stakes. You pride yourself on building solid working relationships. Granted some are more productive than others. But with this person you have been unable to build any relationship equity. It does not get beyond a sense of walking on eggshells. And it cannot continue without putting the project and your PMO’s in jeopardy.
Though you share common ground and keep her informed, she brings a different skill set to the table. Issues you have are:
• She skims email updates rather than reading the critical details.
• In meetings, you find yourself reiterating details instead of moving things forward.
• On conference calls, her comments reveal her lack of understanding
• She argues her viewpoint yet you’ve gained alignment from the team.
• There are side conversations with team members wondering what’s happening.
What must change?
You must find a way to connect so that you are no longer walking on eggshells. Here is what is affected if you don’t turn this relationship around:
• Your sanity
• Your reputation
• Other team members time and effort
• Project deliverables and outcome
This person brings a critical element to the success of the project, so it’s imperative you take steps to improve the working relationship.
Step one: Determine if others have the same problem with her. If so, then there is something in her behavior that is contributing to the dynamic. If not, and it’s only with you, it appears you are triggering her in some way. Either way it will mean intentionally changing your approach.
Step Two: Complete a written reflection on a recent conversation and determine what you contribute to the interaction. This is not about finding fault as much as it is about naming what you do or say that causes the discussions to go down the same path. Once you name what you are doing then you have options to change your approach.
Step Three: Review you written notes and look for turning points in the discussion. What she does and what you do. Within these turning points, are the keys for adapting your approach, so you can break the ineffective communication cycle.
In a complicated dynamic, it only takes one person adjusting their approach to turn a relationship around. Because you have a common business goal, there is a high probability you can find a way to turn the eggshells into firmer ground.
Have you ever had that ‘walking on eggshells’ feeling?
Were you able to turn it around?
Perhaps you have a colleague that causes you to walk on eggshells. On Wednesday evenings at 9 pm ET, I coach participants through these situations. If you would like to join the call please optin through this link: