What’s not to like about a book titled How to Work with (Almost) Anyone: Five Questions for Building the Best Possible Relationships? It’s a small book, easy to read, and sets a clear path on building better relationships – not just at work, but those you “work with” aka “do tasks together.”
In this book, Michael Bungay Stanier suggests you take up to 30 minutes to have a meaningful conversation with each of your co-workers by asking these five questions:
- The Amplify Question – What’s your best? What are your strengths, your Working Genius, vs. the things that you are competent but not crazy about doing?
- The Steady Question – What are your practices and preferences? Knowing the details of how you like to work makes it easier to support your best.
- The Good Date Question – What can we learn from our past positive relationships?
- The Bad Date Question – What can we learn from our past not-so-great relationships?
- The Repair Question – How will you fix it when things go wrong (which they will…so talk about before it happens!)?
He also provides suggestions on what to say and what to do (and what NOT to do) to make it a meaningful interaction and ideas to sustain that relationship.
Sounds easy enough….but not so fast! YOU have to answer the questions too….which takes a bit of forethought – and your coworker should be given the questions in advance so they too can prepare.
And herein lies the challenge: How do you go up to a co-worker and suggest this rather weird conversation that needs a dose of prework? Stanier has some ideas about this, but I think the biggest obstacle is in the desire to make an investment of your time and energy with that other person. Are you willing to be open and transparent, actively listen to the other, and take what you learn to make the relationship better?
My guess is that is a bit of an odd conversation to have at work – and the first couple of times will be awkward. So read the book, prepare your answers, pick a safe person (at work or personal), and dive on in. It’s actually quite a fascinating conversation and without fail WILL make the relationship better!