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Labor-Management Initiative: Building Successful Relationships

Whether you represent labor or management, getting along with others and working within alliances are paramount to building a successful relationship in any profession. While determination, hard work and fact-based information exchange are all substantial factors in the equation to achieving a successful relationship, things can go awry from time to time.

Your interpersonal relationships and your presentation can make a relationship either practicable and productive or a set up for disaster. Sometimes we create unnecessary barriers to getting the results we seek.

Building Successful Relationships Contrasts from Persuading People

We first need to understand that persuading someone to your way to thinking is an educational process that doesn't happen instantaneously and it most certainly doesn't happen every time. Most important to this process is building solid professional relationships, based on trust, cooperation and respect.

With long-time friends, that can be easy, but with new acquaintances it may be a bit more challenging. Becoming effective in persuasion takes practice and patience, and it can prove especially trying when there are uncompromising people in the process.

While unions advocate in different ways for justice and fairness for their members, management should seize the opportunity to form an alliance with the union, seeing this as a common goal.

By now, we should all agree that labor unions and fire chiefs are on an analogous path—providing for the health and wellbeing of our members and making certain that everyone goes home. The first step toward that goal is maintaining an agreeable relationship. While all people and situations are unique, there are some basic rules to ensure you increase the trust level, cooperation and effectiveness of those around you.

Avoid Unnecessary Obstacles

Change your perspective. Success in dealing with people centers on your ability to understand others' viewpoints on a given issue and to act accordingly. Remember, education leads to persuasion, not conflict. Not understanding another's perspective can lead to an avoidable obstacle.

Sidestep Confrontation by Asking Key Questions and Sharing Relative Stories

Confrontation isn't usually the most effective course of action and should be avoided when possible. Instead, try putting yourself in your coworker's situation (not always an easy task) and determine how you would act or feel if you were in his or her position.

Create alternative responses; impart relative stories that will allow for an open dialog while still sharing pertinent information. Insight and understanding will lead you to find solutions that may not have been apparent at the onset.

Whether or not you achieve your desired results, most decisions are geared towards obtaining something you want. Think pros and cons, benefits and disadvantages. Determine how you can produce the desired result through your efforts to educate others about the issue.

To begin to build a better relationship and to persuade, it's imperative that you reflect upon the situation from the other's vantage point. Promote mutual gain and be honest when conveying a needed benefit or result. Try thinking in terms of advantages and disadvantages for the organization rather than trying to satisfy our own wants and desires, and shared results will follow.

Building and Maintaining Relationships Equals Results

In the end, we must all make investments in building and maintaining these relationships. Forming what may appear as an uneasy alliance in the beginning will eventually lead to results in the end. The most successful people know how to deal with all types of personalities and situations.

Determination and intellect fall short without the education and cooperation of others. Your most daunting tasks can become your most impressive successes and your most difficult people your most productive alliances if you educate them accurately and with respect.

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