Lately, I’ve been either working with people who are less than enthusiastic about developing a meaningful rapport with myself and my department or have been affected by various issues that have made them less collaborative/cooperative. In general, I try to build relationships that will help out in the long-run. That will create allies, that will form partnerships, etc.
I have learned recently that perhaps it’s a futile effort. That the best tactic is, to turn a phrase, to put [the] baby in the corner. <nod to Dirty Dancing>
I use the term “baby” on purpose. A professional that is unwilling to develop a rapport – or even listen to one proposing to form such a relationship – is, in the context of a professional work environment, a baby. This is someone who is immature, pouts about the realities of his or her job rather than faces up to the challenges, and points fingers and places blame on others.
When working with someone that is like this, my manager gave me some very sound advice recently. Don’t try to build a rapport. Ignore all the inane, illogical issues surrounding the discussion. Place out of mind the obvious fact that if we were to work together, we could get so much more done.
Focus on what you need, and how to get it.
Not in a selfish way – if we are ones that are frustrated over lack of building rapport, we are likely ones that are generally not selfish when it comes to working with others. But in the sense that, should all diplomatic efforts fail, just focus on what you need to get your job done.
Put that “baby” in a corner. Pin him or her down with whatever mental constructs you need to block out all the noise. Focus in on what information you need – how long before the problem is fixed? What do you need from me to fix it faster? How quickly can we get out of this conversation now that we’ve gotten our needed information? – and put on blinders to everything else.
This is really a last resort (and as last resorts go, this is far from Machiavellian) and one should still go for collaboration and communication first. But I’m already finding it to be a useful communication construct when one runs into serious and undeniable barriers.
Counter-points? For those 5 people that read this?