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Respect Others by Encouraging Collaboration

by Beth on July 10th, 2010

Often our first reaction when something goes wrong is to look for someone to blame.  But assigning fault is counterproductive and it undermines respect.  First of all, identifying whom to blame requires looking backward, while solving a problem requires looking forward.  So you will never solve the problem if you are focused on assigning blame.  Furthermore, blaming someone shows a lack of respect by signaling that they are incompetent or irresponsible.  They will be put on the defensive and will be unlikely to provide much assistance in resolving the problem.

Collaborative problem solving is the most effective way to handle problems.  Better decisions are made when everyone is involved in the search for and evaluation of alternative solutions.  Involving others also shows respect by demonstrating trust in their abilities to successfully resolve the situation.

You can encourage collaborative problem solving by using descriptive communication.  Descriptive statements avoid judgment by objectively describing the situation or event that occurred.  Evaluative statements, on the other hand, are judgments such as “You are wrong” or “You are lazy”.  These types of statements show a lack of respect for the person who is being evaluated.

Descriptive communication follows three steps.  The first step is to describe the behavior or event, focusing on what happened rather than evaluating the person.  Second is to identify the consequences of the action or the feelings it caused without placing blame.  The third step is to focus on finding a solution.  In this way the communication centers on the problem and how best to resolve it.  The communication is supportive because the individual doesn’t feel personally attacked.

The next time something goes wrong at work, don’t undermine respect by looking for someone to blame, instead encourage collaboration and stay focused on resolving the problem.

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