SEPTEMBER 16, 2022

The Demise of Interpersonal Relationships and 5 Things You Can Do

We live in a highly sensitive society, and interpersonal relationships seem to be getting worse.

From what I see, it has a lot to do with stress and fear caused by people not taking the time to know the individuals they work with. We are trying to treat everyone the same and it’s not working.

Relationships aren’t cookie-cutter. We all relate to each other differently whether that’s based on culture, gender, race, seniority, or a mix of everything. Different people have different identities and needs.

Good relationships require empathy, listening, being vulnerable, and working on your own interpersonal skills. Employees, managers, and executives all have different languages and needs in the workplace.

The Conversation Is The Relationship

I’d like to ask that we all start with listening deeply for what the other person needs…and the way they want to be treated.

I know that’s foreign because we’re used to starting with what we want or what we have to say. But to develop deep, valuable workplace relationships, we need to dialogue more about where other people are on their journeys and what they need to be their best selves at work.

I’m not talking about being fake. I’m talking about a two-way exchange. I’m talking about connecting.

If I’m talking to a Black woman executive, I’m going to relate to her in a way she receives. I’ll talk to a White male employee of mine in a way he receives. You can imagine my words, tone, and body language are going to be different because I’m going to adapt – because I understand the audience’s needs.

This is different from compartmentalizing because I’m still aligned with my inner self. It’s just that I understood who I’m with and where I’m at, then I adjust with situational awareness.

Note how I’m not saying, “I treat everybody the same!” which makes it harder to connect as unique people with our own backgrounds and identities.

I try to meet people where they are.

Managers often tell me this takes too much time and effort. Such people have a very hierarchical mindset. They think their staff should adapt to them.

Actually, in the long run, dialoguing saves time because people in authentic relationships work together more efficiently.

If you don’t have some level of connection, missteps become fallouts more easily.

The Platinum Rule

The Golden Rule is to treat people as you want to be treated.

The Platinum Rule is far more effective…

Treat people how they want to be treated.

It’s not hard. In the midst of everything being overly urgent, sensitive, and high-stress, we just need to practice presence.

Here are some practical steps, the next time you’re in conversation:

  • Stop multitasking. Wherever your commitment is at that moment, be there.
  • Be situationally aware by pausing and listening to other people’s needs, whether they share them directly or not.
  • Be prepared to share your needs to help the other person connect with you.

Take a look at our Racial Equity Bootcamp, to learn more ways to understand people who are different.