In Part 1, we looked at the people you are mixing with, whether they are your supporters or naysayers and how to mix with people who will help you climb the success ladder.
In this part I’m talking about your relationships with all the Buddies in your life and how these relationships may be impacting how you run your business. And quite frankly, when you are experiencing any relationship issues they will be making an impact on your business in some way, even when the problem is with someone outwith your business.
When I talk about Your Buddies in this context, I include three different categories:
- Your personal relationships – friends, family, loved ones, the communities you are a part of
- Your business relationships – your employees or managers or bosses; your peers and team members (depending whether you are employed or running your own business)
- Your client and customer relationships – these two are strictly business relationships, but fall into a very different category from those you work with
There are so many different scenarios that I have coached my clients on with regard to their relationships it would probably take up a whole book rather than a blog if I was to examine all of them. And my long-suffering readers know that I rarely write a short blog as it is!
However, one that comes to mind concerns one of my fabulous clients – let’s call her Susan (this is not her real name as I like to protect my clients’ identities when we are dealing with personal issues).
Susan had a very bad relationship with her parents stretching back to her childhood as well as on going through her adult life. From her description, they had never respected her as an individual person in her own right and had specifically restricted her in taking her work in the creative field on a particular path. They had acted in so many ways to undermine her confidence and beliefs in her skills and, most damagingly, in herself.
Her real personality and abilities were hidden to them – they just wanted to mould her into someone else. Overtime, she had actually become invisible to her parents. Susan and I did a lot of work on who she felt she really was, who she wanted to be as an adult and how to give herself permission to be that person. Being invisible to her family had resulted in Susan never being able to express her needs and beliefs and we worked on that area a lot too.
We had made a lot of progress – and then her mother became seriously ill. Her mother changed from not even acknowledging Susan as her daughter to giving her a list of responsibilities as to how she wanted Susan to take care of her through this illness. She expected Susan to drop everything. Her lack of respect for Susan’s work, believing it was worth nothing and something she played at, meant that she could see no barriers to Susan sorting everything out for her and being at her beck and call for weeks on end.
As you can imagine, this brought up a lot emotions and challenges for Susan. She became very disconnected from her work (a bad place to be as an artist) and slipped back into some of her old belief systems, doubting her abilities and her self-worth.
Susan had reverted to the old automatic pilot of not be able to identify her own needs nor being clear on how much she wanted to help her mother through this illness.
I coached Susan through a process of reconnecting with her gifts and gaining clarity and focus on what she did and did not want to take responsibility for in supporting her mother. As a result, Susan was able to build a plan as to how to manage her time – how to reconnect with her work when she was unable to be immersed in her work as she normally would when creating a new piece and how much time to dedicate to taking care of her mother. She achieved this by seeing all the choices she had and deciding what was important to her.
She also found her voice. We worked on how to get her mother to hear that Susan also had needs at this difficult time. As Susan displayed her inner strength and convictions and shared these in a way that her mother registered them, her mother came to accept the role that Susan felt she could play in her care.
I hope you will recognise that, as a coach, part of my function is never to be judgmental but always to work with the client. At no time did I take a view on what I felt her role with her mother should be. It was always abut working out what Susan wanted in that role. Despite their past history, she did not want to abandon her, but also did not want to become a slave to her needs. My role is always to help my clients to progress, to move forward, to see the choices they have and then decide on a course of action to take.
Susan has now produced some amazing work and has found her voice so much she is actively exhibiting and talking about her work – as well as selling her pieces of art. And she did not cut herself off from her mother, which at one stage she believed was the only solution.
Sickness in the family can put pressure on how you are functioning at work, whatever your field of work is and whatever your responsibilities are – whether you are a solopreneur or running a large company, a manger or a team member. It is all about trying to find the balance between what is happening in your personal relationships and how this impacts your emotions and your physical availability.
Very often when your personal relationships are being challenged, not just by sickness but maybe by the ending of an intimate relationship or a falling out, you can either become totally self-focused on how (badly) you are being treated or fall into a role that takes no heed of your own needs. Reconnecting with your own needs and valuing yourself can help you to gain clarity of how to continue in a powerful role at work whilst also resolving the issues at home.
In all 3 Buddy categories, having the best relationships possible is about good communication, respect for yourself and respect for others. Not only do you need to be clear about what serves you best from these relationships, but also how to communicate these needs. It is about creating a safe space in which to communicate these needs and also to allow the other parties to be heard. This is especially true when dealing with work colleagues whether they are more senior than you, your peers or people you are managing. Developing good communication EQ skills is vital in this role; helping everyone to understand the ethos of the company, the work required from them and for them to feel empowered to share their thinking.
Too often we listen to what other people say, but we do not hear what they are really trying to tell us. Especially when the other person is complaining!
For any relationship to prosper and grow, you need to find your voice and be neither a people pleaser nor an antagoniser. By reconnecting with your gut instincts, your intuition, you will find the right way to deal with difficult situations in a way that serves your needs.
Although I have used the term Buddies to encompass the area of all the relationships in your life, not all the people who fall into this category will be your best friends! But developing the right relationships that work for you and for them will ensure that not only do you thrive but they will thrive too, as will your business.
Powerful coaching helps you to find your voice, to recognise your needs, to see the choices you have and most importantly to take action to achieve your dreams.
The art of good communication is powerful indeed!