“You’re always late when we get together, I find that frustrating.”
Sound familiar? Do you have a friend or a colleague who is always late and you value punctuality?
Or maybe they always cancel your plans at the last moment, driving you crazy.
Have you ever had the courage to talk to your friend about these types of issues? Or do you just stop making the effort and within a short period of time you are no longer in each other’s lives?
In the next few weeks I will begin another coaching relationship and as I think about it I am reminded of what we call in coaching, designing the alliance.
What’s that mean, you say?
In simple terms it means defining early on in the relationship what you expect from it and what you will give in return.
Not in your head, but verbally to the other person, in a conversation.
When you choose to consciously design how you want a relationship to be, and by relationship I mean anything, friendship, lover, co-worker, family member, it will completely change how that relationship functions. You see in our daily lives we have a tendency to interact with others based on assumptions of what they are thinking, feeling or wanting. We never take the time to clarify for sure.
Notice one dangerous word in that? Assumptions. What kind of ground is that to begin a relationship on?
When we are clear in the beginning how we want the relationship to look we run a much greater chance of not being disappointed, frustrated or fed up. Better yet the relationship will be stronger, healthier and more reliable. Designing an alliance with another person means that there is something at stake for you both. In a coaching relationship that stake is their growth and development, for you maybe it’s a job or a new in-law or a new friend.
It’s a challenge to state how you want a relationship to be before it really begins. I get it; it’s out of the box thinking, awkward, maybe even weird. But trust me, so worth it.
So what does it look like to “design a relationship”?
A good place to start is to look at your values and to share those with the other person. Examples: I value punctuality, so I need you to be on time when we agree to meet. I value honesty so I appreciate when you tell me the truth and don’t hide things from me. I make time for my friends in my busy life, I expect the same in return, I expect that my good friends will be there when I reach out for their help and I promise to do the same for you. Whatever it looks like for you, share it with this other person. (Remember these are not demands but rather a gentle sharing of needs and wants)
Know also that, once you do this the “alliance” isn’t stagnant. It can change at any time and can be revisited by either party whenever you choose. Don’t forget about acknowledgement in a relationship either. Perhaps you shared that punctuality is important to you, acknowledge the other person when they honor that for you, “I really appreciate that you’re always on time when we meet, I know I can count on you. Thank you.”
Being in a new intimate relationship is an awesome place to try this. So many new dates don’t work out because we had an expectation of what the other person would say or do and when they didn’t live up to it we dumped them. How can they live up to your expectations of what a relationship should be if you never shared with them what you needed in the first place!!!!
The tag line for my coaching business is Courage, Communication, Connection. Setting the parameters of a new relationship or “designing the alliance” take all three of these things. It certainly takes courage to say what you need in a relationship, you must communicate your needs clearly and kindly and when you do I guarantee you will feel a deeper connection to the other person.
Think about how you can change the way you connect with others in your life and if you choose to share even one thing with an existing or new relationship I would love to hear about it!!
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