Any healthy and productive relationship, business or personal, operates on the basis of certain "agreements." By agreements, I'm not referring to "what" we're doing or working on, but on "how" we do things/work together.
Examples of agreement topics include any ways we operate that may impact others, like:
The trouble is, we rarely set up these agreements verbally. We simply work together or live together, go along, and are then surprised and upset when we find that we're obviously operating from a different set of agreements ("Why does she do things so slowly?" "Why does he rush in and jump the gun?" "Why does she email everything? I'm right in the next cubicle--she could just talk to me" "Why does he stick his head over my cubicle wall every 5 minutes--it drives me crazy and he could just put it in an email"). Things aren't so bad when we're dealing with someone who is a lot like us, but that's rarely the case. More often than not, we're dealing with people who have different ways of working and living and different assumptions about the right ways to go about things. And if we don't talk about it, and come to some kind of agreement on our agreements, we're leaving ourselves open to frustration, a ball getting dropped somewhere, and the potential for damaged relationships.
How to Create Agreements:
Creating agreements means discussing what we mutually need from one another in terms of how we work or live together. Have a conversation and declare your intention ("My intent in initiating this conversation is to make things easy for us both by making sure we are working and interacting off the same set of "interaction blueprints"), ask for mutual disclosure, and get them to tell you the secrets of interacting well with them. For example, find out (and share):
As part of creating an agreement, also decide together how you will handle the violation of an agreement (we're human -- something will be violated unintentionally at some point). That way you have a game-plan for when things get tricky and go off-track. And since it's a game plan that you've created together, you have a better chance of it working!
Whether you're thinking about a relationship with a co-worker, boss, employee, customer, or a personal relationship, creating agreements is a smart way to make sure things go smoothly and important business or personal relationships are strengthened in the process.
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