These principles are the key things I’ve learnt about working with other people. If you follow them you are being reasonable, and if you are being reasonable, you will be effective.

They form the basis of my webinars and workshops, which I can tailor to your needs. If you like what you’ve read, please consider booking me to run one for your colleagues, volunteers, beneficiaries or any other group.

They also help you understand how I approach my consultancy. Whatever your communication, governance, policy, public affairs or strategy needs, I’m happy to discuss them.

  • If you approach someone as a partner rather than an adversary, you create a positive basis for the relationship. Explain why your problem is a shared problem, and how solving it will benefit both of you.

  • Sometimes you will be dismayed, horrified, astounded, confused or similar by what someone says or does or believes. You may tell yourself there is no way to work with this person. But everybody has reasons for what they believe, think, do and say. By understanding those reasons, you will begin to understand how to work with that person to achieve your objectives.

  • If you do not listen to someone you will never understand their reasons for saying, doing or believing something. And if you do not understand their reasons, you will not understand how to work effectively with them.

  • You can only act effectively when you have the facts. So you should constantly ask yourself, ‘what do I know?’ And I mean ‘know’; not what you think you know, not what is probably true. Because you should only act on what you know – even if what you know is that you don’t know something!

  • If you want someone to do something for you, do something for them first. They will be more incined to help you if you’ve helped them. And it may lead to things you don’t expect. You could even become indispensable, then they may not only be grateful, they may come to depend on you for their effectiveness.

  • We are all telling stories all the time; it’s how we explain to each other how we see the world. As well as listening to their story, make sure you tell yours. Don’t assume they know what you know, understand your reasons, share your experiences. Assume they know nothing.

  • To tell a convincing story, you need to know the details. That means having evidence to back up what you say. You should be able to respond to questions, or know where to find the answers. And don’t lie – or bullshit. It will come back to haunt you, and if your objectives are sound, you shouldn’t need to.

  • If someone doesn’t understand you or doesn’t want to do what you need them to, then it’s your fault. Always. You are the one who wants something, so you are the one who needs to make the situation clear. If it isn’t as clear to them as it is to you, you simply haven’t done enough.

  • The world is a mess of things and people. They are connected and disconnected by a myriad of relationships. People muddle it even further with their beliefs and distinct worldviews. Within the morass there are always connections to be found, synergies to be exploited. If you spend the time looking, you will find the win-win situation.

  • The pace of change can be frustrating, especially when you know people are suffering. But if you try to do things too quickly, you’re more likely to make mistakes and annoy others. Instead, keep your eye on the goal and persevere. Remember: ‘softly, softly catchee monkey’.

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