5 Tips to Improve Your Relationship Management Skills

Copyright (c) 2009 Maurine Patten

Relationship management becomes more important as you assume more professional responsibility. You need skills to build bonds, inspire, influence and develop others. All the while you need to be open to change, manage conflict and establish teamwork.

Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman believes it is possible to build better relationships one step at a time. This is accomplished by focusing on six competencies in the Relationship Management domain of Emotional Intelligence:

1. Inspire

2. Influence

3. Develop

4. Initiate change

5. Manage conflict

6. Establish teams and collaboration

Let’s look for some ideas about how to be successful in each of these domains.

1. Inspiration often begins with a time of quiet reflection about nagging questions. In the process of examining feelings which include anxiety, confusion and passion, often a vision becomes clear which helps to understand the larger purpose or mission. For inspiration to truly happen, the vision has to be spelled out to others in a compelling style. In this way, others hopefully will “buy into” the ideas and plan. Individuals who inspire others:

– Draw on the collective wisdom of others

– Involve others to look at the reality and the ideal vision

– Are able to connect with people’s emotional centers as well as intellectually.

2. Influence is one of the three ingredients of a democratic leader. Teamwork and conflict management are the other two ingredients and will be discussed later. Influence also requires effectively handling others’ emotions. You may have been in situations where you influenced someone’s mood, or he/she influenced your mood. Individuals with a high level of influence:

– Skillfully win people over by listening, networking wit them, etc.

– Fine-tune what they are going to say to appeal to the listener

– Willingly use a variety of strategies to build consensus and support.

3. Developing others is a skill needed by managers who supervise others and are responsible for the growth of employees in their department or division. Individuals with a high level in developing others:

– Acknowledge and reward people’s strengths and accomplishments

– Offer helpful feedback and accurately target needs for further growth

– Mentor, coach, and offer tasks that challenge and foster a person’s skills.

4. Initiating change or being a change catalyst consistently models the behaviors you want to see in others. You begin by questioning the emotional reality and cultural norms underlying daily activities and behaviors. How others feel about the change process needs to be considered. Individuals who are easily able to initiate change:

– Recognize the need for change

– Challenge the status quo

– Make compelling arguments for change

– Find practical ways to overcome barriers to change.

5. Managing conflict requires being able to understand different perspectives and finding a common solution that everyone can endorse. It requires good listening skills and self-control. Individuals how have good conflict management skills:

– Handle difficult people and tense situations tactfully

– Spot potential conflict and help de-escalate the situation

– Encourage open discussion

– Work for win-win solutions.

6. Teamwork and collaboration model respect, helpfulness and cooperation. Both work and home are happier when these conditions are met. When teams work well, turnover and absenteeism decline and productivity increases. Individuals who have strong teamwork and collaboration skills:

– Draw all members into active participation

– Build a team identity and commitment

– Protect the group and share credit.

It is now known that emotions are contagious. In addition, every encounter with another person can be anywhere on a continuum from emotionally toxic to nourishing.

In summary, to improve your relationship management skills, you want people to be able to turn towards you rather than away or against you. To have good relationship management skills you need to use the following 5 tips:

1. Develop open, honest, trusting relationships.

2. Have self-respect and show respect to others, especially if you are responsible for their development.

3. Have good communication skills including listening, assertiveness and conflict management

4. Understand what a change process entails, and be willing to lead people through it.

5. Be a good team member and encourage collaboration.

Being an effective manager not only makes you look good, it improves the skills of those you supervise and makes them look good. That is a “win-win” for everybody.

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