Newsletter Vol. 6, Issue 3
September 2008


Welcome to the quarterly Working Dynamics Newsletter. Our goal is to highlight how we can have stronger work relationships, communicate more effectively, and manage conflict constructively in the workplace.

I hope you'll find our suggestions useful and contact us when we can help.

Susan Gunn
Working Dynamics

In this issue:
  • About the Publisher
  • Small, yet powerful, ways to build relationships at work
  • Multi-tasking: Do the benefits outweigh the risk?
  • Working Dynamics hosts Lunch and Learn on Conflict Competent Teams

  • Small, yet powerful, ways to build relationships at work
    building relationships

    In talking about what great leaders do, Margaret Wheatley said "In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions." If so, we'd be wise to put a lot more energy into building our work relationships than counting on a title or recognition to change how people respond to us.

    Approached sincerely, we can intentionally shift how we interact with others and build stronger work relationships as we do. Below are four ways to build a closer bond with colleagues:

    1. Share what you know.
    2. Everyone appreciates being "in the know." Therefore, working with an "information hoarder" is not fun. Those who are in the know and keep it to themselves give the distinct impression they are only concerned with themselves and their personal success. Conversely, colleagues who are generous with their knowledge build allies. In showing interest in others knowing as well, they build respect, appreciation, and a clear picture of leadership.
    3. Ask for help when you don't know.
    4. Sometimes, people stubbornly refuse to admit they don't know the answer. In the process, they can come across as arrogant, over-confident, and disinterested in the talents of others on the team. To admit not knowing, leaders model a willingness to learn and show an appreciation for the talents and contributions of others.
    5. Develop an appreciation for "small talk."
    6. Being able to converse on big issues is indeed important, but being able to communicate in informal settings using "small talk" has great value, too. Some may see "chit-chat" or "polite conversation" as inconsequential and a time-waster. However, talking about activities and people that matter to others (or interests you both may share) says you care about people, not just work. A 10-minute casual conversation here and there builds the kind of relationships that can withstand stress.
    7. Look for opportunities to do a someone a favor.
    8. Little generous gestures, especially when you aren't looking for anything in return, builds good will and respect. And when your turn comes to need help, you can bet others will be there for you.

    Multi-tasking: Do the benefits outweigh the risk?

    For a moment, put yourself in these situations and consider what you'd think and feel.

    1. You are on the phone with a colleague and are fairly certain the person on the other end is typing on their computer keyboard while you are speaking.
    2. You are speaking in a meeting and the colleague you most want to hear your message is checking her Blackberry.

    Do you feel heard? What messages are you receiving? Many people will question whether they are being heard and also may come away feeling they received very little respect for their ideas and their time.

    Not feeling respected or thinking own opinions matter are frequent issues in workplaces. Multi-tasking while communicating is a small action that has a much larger consequence that is intended. Time pressures encourage busy people to make use of every moment. Yet it is worth realizing that people say they come away from these situations very frustrated and often angry. When people don't feel heard or respected, some people are direct and appropriately let you know at the time. Others who respond less directly may pull away from the working relationship or may let their frustration or disappointment build to present itself later, possibly when you need that person's cooperation or support the most.

    "Multi-taskers" quite often think they have the ability to do two (maybe three) things at once and still hear everything being said. In reality, they may be able to hear all of the WORDS being spoken. However, they almost always are at risk of missing key communication subtleties found in tone, non-verbal cues, and what the speaker is NOT SAYING. Attempting to listen while fitting other tasks into the process carries a huge risk of sending signals that you don't respect the speaker and/or don't care about what is being said and eventually erodes the relationship.

    The next time you are tempted to multi-task while listening to a colleague, be both realistic and weigh the risk. Realistically, your limits of concentration probably won't hold up to the task. More importantly, ask yourself if whittling down your to-do list is worth implying that others are not very important to you.

    Working Dynamics hosts Lunch and Learn on Conflict Competent Teams
    conflict competent teams

    When: September 18, 2008 1-2:30 pm
    Where: TBA
    Duration: 1 hour (webinar) with discussion afterwards
    Cost: Complimentary to the first 12 registrants (light lunch included)

    Conflict can be at the heart of teams' best ideas as well as their worst failures. This webinar, presented by Tim Flanagan and Craig Runde, looks at how teams can use conflict to enhance creativity, productivity, and the quality of their decision-making. While teams inevitably encounter conflict, too many of them fail to develop norms for how they want to address it when it arises. This session looks at how to create the right climate and use constructive communications techniques to manage team conflict effectively.

    By attending this session you will:

    • Discover why conflict is both a challenge and an opportunity for teams
    • Learn how to create the right climate for effective conflict management in teams
    • Develop approaches for using constructive communication approaches to address team conflict
    • Assess your team's current conflict environment

    Who Should Attend
    The audience for this webinar includes team leaders, team members, project managers, training and development managers, and organizational leaders concerned about ensuring high performance in teams.

    Space is limited; register early: Email or call Susan Gunn, Working Dynamics (sgunn@workdyn.com; 804-353-9527).

    Subscriber information: If you want to forward this newsletter, you can use the link "Forward to a friend" below.

    We publish four times a year. Your email address is secure with us. Working Dynamics will never share subscribers' email addresses. When you no longer want to hear from us, you can use the SafeUnsubscribe link below.

    About the Publisher

    Susan Gunn is president of Working Dynamics, a Richmond, VA, consulting firm. Working Dynamics builds collaboration and success in the workplace through development programs and and conflict management. Learn more about us at www.workdyn.com.


    "You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals."

    -- Marie Curie


    "If you are not listening, you are not learning. "

    -- Lyndon Baines Johnson


    "If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it."

    -- Margaret Fuller

    Contact us for details:

    Organizational Assessment

    Team Consulting


    Conflict Dynamics Assessment and Development


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