Five Techniques For Working With People Different Than You

In sales, you work with people from all walks of life. Not everyone will think or act like you. Some of your best customers, key employees or close business associates might be very different from you-and that's okay. Martin Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, says that when you understand how to work with people of different generations, cultures, points of view and priorities, you set yourself up for success.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discus Zwilling's techniques for working with a diverse set of clients, employees and business partners.

1. Build more relationships with people who are not like you. If you limit your relationships in business to people who are just like you, your business potential is severely limited, says Zwilling. Get to know your business associates as people to understand their personality, strengths and motivation before you deal with them on business issues. Only by first understanding their differences can you fully appreciate what others bring to the table, even if it is contrary to your view. Don't let the current focus on emails, procedures and message exchanges convince you that work is a purely mechanical process.

2. Don't assume others are intentionally being difficult. They are simply being who they are, and they are as frustrated with you as you are with them when things aren't working. They are thinking and making decisions based on their unique personality, cultural background and previous experiences. Your challenge is to adapt to them.

3. Never try to change people—capitalize on their strength. Zwilling says it's easier to adapt your own style than to try to force others to be like you. People can change themselves if they respect you as a role model and feel your courtesy and respect for their position and ability. Always be civil and diplomatic, and don't allow emotions to cloud the situation.

4. Encourage business disagreements and healthy conflict. Real innovation can only come from people who think and see things differently. Disagreements should lead to constructive discussions, real learning and better solutions. The challenge, according to Zwilling, is to remain non-judgmental, non-defensive and not feel the need to win every argument.

5. Don't generalize the discussion—stick to the problem at hand. It's often tempting to bring up prior issues to make a point, but this approach is fraught with the danger of escalating emotions and potential misunderstandings. Successful work relationships require focus, cooperation, and listening, and often benefit from different approaches. Zwilling advises saving the generalized discussions and feedback for scheduled mentoring and coaching sessions, rather than the daily impromptu strategy or problem-solving meetings. Demonstrate to your constituents that you can do both and understand the difference.

The business world is becoming more diverse and operating increasingly on a global scale. It's important to look around and incorporate more diversity into your business.

Source: Martin Zwilling is the founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small-business owners.

filed under August 2019
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