Maintaining Relationships – Through the Tough Times
It’s been a while since I’ve checked in with you all, and I know you’re wondering where I’ve been. I have no good excuse for the abandonment, but hopefully we can pick up where we left off. After all, it wasn’t you, it was me. What do you say? For old times’ sake?
Today, we’re talking about relationships and working through those tough times. Ironic isn’t it? I ghosted you and now I want to talk about healthy relationships.
You know when we were in college, our professors made us work in groups because “YoU hAvE tO bE aBlE tO wOrK wItH pEoPlE” and all that jazz. I always thought to myself, ‘I’m a student-athlete on a team-oriented sport, I have superior people skills, and I’m incredibly modest…I got this.’ It wasn’t until I got this sweet-gig I realized what they meant. Those professors weren’t just preparing us to be great team players, they were preparing us for the people who weren’t team players.
For this blog entry we interviewed two employees who specialize in maintaining relationships. Internally, we have marketing team member and Public Relations Manager Maraliese Beveridge and externally, we have Senior Environmental Scientist Alex Ross.
Maintaining Relationships with Clients
You know, those amazing people who pay for your products and services and, in turn, you get a paycheck? Yeah, those are the people we want to keep happy. So, we called in the big guns, Senior Environmental Specialist Alex Ross to tell us how to do just that.
“The main difference between internal and external communication is external communication you’re in a variety of environments. City, suburbs, farms, you name it,” Alex said. “The thing that should remain the same is your professionalism.”
“You never know what you’re going to walk into,” he said. “So, while you have a job to do, safety and professionalism are our main priorities.”
In any environment, you want to scope out potential hazards. Potholes, critters, traffic, etc. And while these hazards are very real, you may be surprised to know other people can be considered hazards as well. For example, Alex told us a story where he encountered angry farmers who implored him to get off their land…and then they brought out their big guns.
“You can’t let it escalate,” Alex continued, “Safety is number one. I told my partner to get back in the truck and asked the farmer, ‘when is a good time for you, for us to come back?’” By accommodating the land owners, he was able to gain their respect, protect his team member, and come to an amicable resolution. Not only was he able to finish the job, but the farmers informed him of a creek they previously didn’t have on their topo map. Bonus!
“The truth is you never know what’s going on with other people. Maybe they were having a bad day. Or were unaware we would be working on their land. Or maybe they had a bad experience with field crews before,” he continued, “But you have to be professional and respectful. We’ve actually received jobs because of our level of professionalism on site!”
Words of Wisdom from Alex
Alex left us with this: be professional in every situation. The good, the bad, and the ugly. When you’re in the field you have to be a chameleon: adapt to your environment. Be empathetic to the people giving you a hard time because you don’t know their situation. “And,” Alex said, “When you kindly interact with those people they become your best asset.”
Maintaining Relationships with Coworkers
Picture this. You’re a talented writer whose job is to take technical jargon explained by experts in their field and turn it into something us average Joes can understand. But it doesn’t end there. The hard part is sending a draft to those experts and explain to them why it’s beneficial to write something your way as opposed to theirs, while maintaining a professional relationship.
Maraliese Beveridge does just that. “You have to show them you’re working with them,” she said. “To take something they’re passionate about and produce content everyone approves of is an art.” However, according to Maraliese, “you’ve gotta know your stuff,” if you want to deliver. You have to listen to people, learn the language specific to their specialty. She explained, “Do your research. Knowing your topic and the parameters surrounding it makes everyone’s job much easier.”
So, what happens when you work with the people who just aren’t the best team players? Maybe you have a client who insists it’s written their way. In these situations, when you just can’t seem to get final approval, Maraliese advises you may have to compromise. Ask yourself if it really hurts to if it’s done their way. If not, it’s a no brainer! You’ve gotta give the people what they want!
Level One: Complete
Great! You’ve passed level one of maintaining relationships, and now it’s time to face the boss. The one employee who everyone knows to only talk to after you’ve made an appointment six months out. You know the one I’m talking about. The one who popped into your head as you read this.
“For the difficult person you’ll definitely encounter,” Maraliese laughed, “You have to remember you have a job to do. Keep it professional and do whatever it takes to get your job done.”
Now, I’m not saying barge into their office and lay down the law. That ain’t gonna cut it. “When you make an appointment, stick to the timeframe. Go to the meeting prepared. Know your angle and the questions you want to ask. Make it easy for them, and they’ll agree to do it again in the future,” Maraliese explained. After you make another appointment of course.
Words of Wisdom from Maraliese
Final advice from Maraliese: if someone is rude to you, remember you’ll probably work with them again. “Be the bigger person, get what you came for, and move on.”
So, there you have it folks! The similarities, differences, and importance of maintaining relationships in a nutshell. Also, since it’s around the Holidays, remember Alex’s advice to empathize with others. You never know the full story!
Tell us how you manage your difficult relationships and how they may have improved. I’ll see you next time I ask, “Am I Doing This Right?”.
Now you have mastered the difficult situations. As an entry level employee, those big-wigs at the company are intimidating. Click here to find out how to handle them.