Right Brain/Left Brain- New Thoughts on Thinking
Teaching My Sons About Compassion

Can we talk?

Guest post by Mary Anne Shew

As a female reader, my first reaction to the title of this book was, “Well, of course relationships make or break success!” Women get this and build their lives around it.

IMG-20110925-00008No question, relationships are not exactly favorite topics of discussion no matter what the situation. In her book, Elephant in the Room: How Relationships Make or Break the Success of Leaders and Organizations, Diana McLain Smith’s focus is the workplace where difficult relationships among those at the top of an organization are the “elephant in the room” that no one wants to talk about.

The first two parts of the books provide excellent insights into the components and mechanics of relationships. In “Understanding Relationships” she explains that we bring our own characteristic ways of interacting with others given our behavioral repertoires, which are organized around key themes such as power, conflict, control and success. Over time patterns emerge around these themes with ingredients such as the emotional responsibilities we seek, the interpersonal rights we claim, and the psychological rewards we want to get.

In “Strengthening Relationships,” Smith suggests her Ladder of Reflection to explore what each of you did to contribute to a difficult situation and to imagine what each of you might do differently going forward. She provides two tools, both organized in business language, to help assess whether the relationship is worth the time and effort of resolution.

The third part of the book is trickier. Smith starts with an enlightening observation regarding the impasse in which each party in the relationship waits for the other to make the necessary changes. She offers a three-stage model of relationship change, each stage also with three steps. However, when one is in a relationship, it’s hard to step outside of yourself to actually see what’s going on. Her examples clearly show the necessity of having a relationships professional such as Smith involved to help the participants through these three stages.

For those at middle or lower levels having difficult, how likely is it their companies would hire the same resource to help them? Though this aspect is not addressed, the ideas, tools, and practices of this book give the motivated, self-aware reader fresh insight into relationship dynamics. SHEW8297

Founder of Business Vitality LLC, Mary Anne Shew is a speaker, writer, and certified business coach. As both a people person and a geek, she is well-known for helping businesses and individuals improve productivity, reclaim their lives, and get results. She is a perpetual student of life and a voracious reader. Nothing gives her more pleasure than to write and talk about books with other rabid readers. Learn more about Mary Anne at www.BizVitality.com and her blog at www.HabitofThought.com

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