Lockdown must do #5: resolving problems well - We Can Work It Out (The Beatles)

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The final part of the series on what my Cov 19 playlist has to say about thriving in tough times, I’m going to focus on making sure our key relationships stay on track: (1) affirmation; (2) preparation; and (3) respectful discussion of issues.

A Queen moment. We’re Under Pressure, yet The Show Must Go On. It’s A Hard Life in normal circumstances, let alone with Covid 19, work stress (volume, insecurity, boss, colleagues), financial worries, lack of personal space, confinement, isolation from positive inputs and meeting the needs of those we’re responsible for. The list is long. It’s really easy for any relationship - with the Love Of My Life or others - to struggle. We have better and worse days, but overall fewer people are at their relaxed and happy best right now. The people we spend the most time with can do or say things that are irritating or don’t meet our expectations; criticism kicks in, resulting in withdrawal, defensiveness or counter-criticism. Jealousy can surface. Keep that cycle going in a confined space and eventually the thought “I Want To Break Free” pops up. What can we do to make sure our key relationships stay in You’re My Best Friend territory, not Another One Bites The Dust?

We’re not relationship or family counsellors at byrne∙dean and don’t pretend to have a magic wand for this. Why read on? Well, we are experienced at helping improve strained relationships at work – often where they seem to be irretrievably broken down. Of course there are differences in the work arena, and we spend a lot of our time giving organisations the tools for their people to navigate those differences. But People Are People (Depeche Mode) and the fundamental ways that issues get fuelled or sorted out aren’t so different at home, at work, or when being at home is being at work.


Here are three principles from our experience – please use what’s useful:

  1. Affirm - Affirm the importance of the relationship. Schedule time for the two of you.
  2. Prepare - If you’ve got a difference to work through, prepare carefully. First, take a good hard look in the mirror. Think about the impact your words and actions (or silence/inaction) is having. Think about how you handle conflict and how they do, and how to respect different approaches. Be kind to them and you – they are not perfect: they are human, limited and fallible - the same as you. Think about your reasonable needs and theirs, rather than I Me Mine (The Beatles) demands.
  3. Respectful discussion - Signal mutual respect in your communication. Listen to understand. Try to look to the future rather than dragging up the past. Be forgiving. Affirm them and your relationship (again).

So there we have it. I hope some of these blogs have been helpful. I have low expectations for Command and Control Clive in Cleethorpes, who will argue to his dying day that remote working can’t work in his team.

My next post will be about what the future may hold. My experience is that testing times reveal true values of people and organisations, and that a good dose of emotional intelligence is key. We work with organisations in different sectors helping leaders and all staff reinforce cultures that breed confidence, where people feel safe and valued and can share their ideas and concerns and where problems are nipped in the bud early. Only cultures like that will be positive, aligned and robust enough to deal with what lies ahead.

If you come away with concerns about my musical taste, I understand. But help me out – tell me your own favourites, I’m always keen to hear something new. The final word goes to The Beatles – warmer days are here and there’s a rumour that Covid 19 can’t handle high temperatures. Here Comes The Sun.

PS As ever, if this is helpful, pass it on!

Other songs:

Don’t Run Away From Me Now, Kirsty MaccollFriday I’m In Love, The CureHave I Told You Lately, Van MorrisonLand Of Hope And Dreams, Bruce SpringsteenNo Need To Argue, The CranberriesOne, Soweto Gospel ChoirRun Of The Mill (Early Takes Vol. 1) – George HarrisonSometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, U2Time Waits For Nobody, Freddie MercuryTrue Love Travels On A Gravel Road, Elvis PresleyWe Belong Together, Randy Newman

Good read

Eight Dates, GottmanDriving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia, Stewart

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