The following is a guest post by Naomi Grunditz with Power of Two, an online marriage education program that teaches the skills couples need to have a healthy, loving, and joyous partnership.
After working with the PO2 curriculum and watching how my coworkers interact using the skills we teach, I’ve realized that marriage counseling doesn’t just teach you how to save a marriage, it’s useful for your interactions in all sorts of relationships, including business. That’s because running a business is a bit like running a family, but with more people. Here are the top five marriage skills we teach at Power of Two that can really help you succeed in the workplace:
1. Just Say It. No matter how well you know someone, it’s safe to conclude that they cannot read your mind. If you want to improve communication in marriage, we recommend you just say it instead of insinuating and hoping your spouse will pick up on your hints. Same goes for the office. Confused about something? Just ask! Think you deserve a raise? Say it! Be clear and concise (but tactful) about what you want and feel.
2. Use “I” statements. Power of Two teaches that while a marriage is the blending of two people, you still remain your own unique individual. Avoid invading your spouse’s space by telling him or her what to do or feel. Instead, talk about yourself and what you want, especially when you disagree (avoid “you…”). Using this skill in the office will help avoid confrontation and arguments.
3. Delete “But.” Using “but” deletes what the other person just said. This automatically sets you up for opposition. Instead, first look for what is right or useful about your partner’s statement. Then add to it by using “yes, and at the same time…” This makes room for both of your opinions and will lead to better decision-making.
4. Exit and re-enter. When an argument starts heating up, sometimes you can get so angry that it’s hard to communicate. At this point, all angry parties should exit the conversation. Take a walk, get a non-caffeinated drink, stretch. Then come back and start negotiating again. Good business is conducted when all involved are relaxed, calm and comfortable (provide food and water at meetings!).
5. Clean up thoroughly after upsets. Even with the best communication skills, there are bound to be a few upsets once and a while. When this happens, never, ever, just ignore it and move on. First, both parties should state what they regret and admit their part in the problem. Then, analyze what went wrong and what can be done differently in the future. End with a solid double apology. This will help you maintain an open and friendly work environment and move towards more constructive solutions in the future.
So why not try using the Power of Two marriage skills outside the home? Next time your boss bugs you about that report for the 10 billionth time, cool down with emotion regulation, then use some “I” statements to state your concerns and improve your professional relationship. I just wouldn’t give him a kiss and a squeeze to make things all better … not everything that works with your spouse will work in the office!
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