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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Building Alliances

Every "transaction" with another human being either improves or reduces the productivity of your relationship with that person.

You build by investing attention. You graciously comply with requests. You listen carefully, and respond respectfully. You cheerfully help find solutions rather than dwelling on mistakes.

So people LIKE working with you, being around you. And they feel obligated, in a pleasant sort of way, to go out of their way to help you. When you truly are too busy, they understand and feel not the slightest irritation with you. They waste less of your time.

This kind of relationship is a tremendous complement to your individually defined habits of personal productivity.

In fact, personal productivity is the combination of a person's efficiency at tasks plus that person's effectiveness in collaboration.

Warning: This success in building alliances takes time.

Most fundamentally, if you're overwhelmed with tasks and problems, the first thing that goes is your ability to communicate meaningfully. As a result, the second thing that goes is your collaboration. You don't have time to even acknowledge another person's existence, much less take time to listen, converse and work together. And those others are a lot less interested in helping you.

This alliance-building is one more time-management issue. It is time-consuming to organize yourself and focus on the communication skills that are the currency of relationships. Each one of these moments with another person takes a few minutes more than just brushing by.

The idea is to manage your time with a thoughtful eye on the importance of investing in your relationships. Make alliance-building among your highest priorities. The payoff is big.

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