Interacting positively with others can be easier said than done. Over the past several weeks, we have been highlighting several “emotional intelligence” related concepts that get us ready to interact positively with others. When you know yourself and you are able to recognize others, you are in a great place to interact positively with others. Positive interactions are critical to partnership and coalition-building work in order to ensure that people continue working together well toward your common goals. If your partners perceive you as difficult, condescending, controlling, passive-aggressive or disinterested, it will be very difficult to convince them to actively participate with you. Even if you share a common interest or goal, if you are not having positive interactions with others, you will have a very difficult time rallying them volunteer their time to work on a collective project. We can all practice and improve in positive interactions with others. Join me this week as we talk about three ways to interact positively with others.
- Listen more than you speak. One of the most important things we can do in leading partnerships – or in any relationship – is to listen, really listen. When we focus on listening, recognizing and understanding others, we are able to interact positively with them. We all want to be heard and want our perspectives considered. Be mindful about how much you are talking and how much you are listening. If you find yourself doing most of the talking, pause and ask more questions. If you find yourself being the one to provide input and suggestions during a meeting more than anyone else, pause and allow others to share perspectives and ideas. As an extrovert and someone with lots of ideas, this can be particularly difficult for me. 🙂 However, when I am able to actively listen, learn and let others contribute, our interactions are more positive and our ability to work together is enhanced.
- Share credit. One of the concepts I learned early in my partnership-building days was the difference between “attribution” and “contribution” and the value of shared credit. When we are considering group goals and objectives, such as increasing population-based colorectal cancer screening or smoking rates, it’s important to recognize that no one organization can take credit for these changes. When we are willing to focus on “contribution” of many organizations and efforts rather than “attribution” of one or two organizations and efforts, we are able to interact more positively with others. We can share the credit and everyone can take credit as part of the collective success.
- Be encouraging. Find ways to encourage others with your words and with your face! As you are talking with others, consider specific and sincere ways to support and build them up. This is especially important if you have struggled with positive interactions in the past. Trust me, I know it can be difficult to find positive and encouraging things to say and even strengths to highlight, but it can make a big difference in improving the relationship and interacting positively with others. It’s also important to ‘check in’ with your facial expressions. If you are wanting to interact positively with others and your face shows that you are concerned or grumpy, it will be interpreted as concerned or grumpy! This doesn’t mean that you need to always be smiling, but when you are interacting with others and paying attention to them, be sure your face is showing a positive and encouraging expression.
We can all continue to work on interacting positively with others. This can be particularly difficult with those who challenge us or think very differently than we do. However, if we want to build AND maintain partnerships in order to make collective impacts, it’s critically important!
So what about you? Which of these areas do you find most helpful in interacting positively with others? Are there other things that help you interact positively with others?
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