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Managing not manipulating relationships

Today’s Emotional Intelligence focus area, Relationship Management, builds on the other concepts we have discussed over the past three weeks, including: Self Awareness, Self Management and Social Awareness. One of the potential pitfalls of this area, if not done with the right intent, is that it comes across as manipulative.  Join me as we talk more about TRUE Relationship Management, how you can tell the difference and how you can improve your skills.

The best way to distinguish Relationship Management from Relationship Manipulation is by the intent and focus of the efforts. If the intent is personal gain and the focus is self-seeking, then it is much more likely to become manipulation rather than management. However, if you are focused on trying to improve relationships, find ways to help people work better together toward a common goal or objective, and you are willing to do what it takes, whether that results in personal gain or not, then you are demonstrating Relationship Management.

When you are showing high levels of Relationship Management, you are able to:

  • Catalyze collaboration among diverse groups of people.
  • Authentically address the emotions of those on your team or coalition
  • Motivate movement and progress in the right direction toward common goals and objectives
  • Courageously and purposefully manage conflict to improve the relationships within the group and the ability to make an impact beyond the group.

Here are 3 ways you can improve Relationship Management:

  1. Reflect.  
    • After your next team or coalition meeting, take at least 5-10 minutes to think about how things went and write some notes.  Did you have good attendance from your key partners? Did everyone participate? Did people pay attention or just look at their phones/computers the entire time? Did people volunteer or agree to take on some action items?  Are you making progress toward your collective goals and objectives? Are you able to have healthy, constructive conflict resolution?
    • As you reflect on this, consider some ideas that might help address areas that you would like to improve for the next team or coalition meeting and implement them.
  2. Observe.
    • During your next team or coalition meeting, watch how people are interacting with you and with one another.  Are they smiling or frowning?  Do they look interested or bored? I was recently part of a video chat where we were discussing a difficult situation.  As I looked at all the participants, there was one person who particularly caught my attention. During the “chit-chat” and informal discussion at the beginning of the conversation where everyone else was smiling and engaged, she was stoic and expressionless. She didn’t move her mouth or her eyes at all.  This helped us know that we needed to address the difficult situation sooner than later because nothing else was going to be received or discussed by her until we began the dialogue about the “elephant” in the room.
    • Also try to really listen to what people are saying. If you hear only what you want to hear, you will miss opportunities to manage the group relationship well.  This happens because you are focused on what you think people are saying rather than what they are actually saying. Actively listening can help you accurately assess the emotions on the team and manage rather than manipulate the situation.
  3. Ask for Feedback.
    • Conduct brief, anonymous surveys with your team, coalition or partnership that assesses how you – or more importantly your group – is doing at Relationship Management.
    • Ask trusted partners and friends to provide constructive feedback on how you are doing in managing the relationships of the group.

So what about you?  How have you experienced Relationship Management vs. Relationship Manipulation?  

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Photo by Phil Coffman on Unsplash

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