When my friend Jane decided to get back into dating, she started with some research. A self-professed science nerd, she looked for books that could help her learn about best practices for successful dating. And when all she could find were books that described ways to trap and manipulate men, which is definitely not her style, she decided to write her own.
In Keys to His Heart: How to Attract a Man and Find True Love Using 3 Scientific Keys that Work Like Magic, Jane describes an approach that includes the concept of “highest intentions.” One of the ways she recommends transforming the dating experience, making it enjoyable and effective, is to begin by holding the highest intentions for everyone involved, including yourself. What a beautiful concept!
As I thought about this more, I realized how “holding the highest intentions” applies in business relationships as well. This could be the key to improving all your relationships. Here are three specific ways you can approach some common business scenarios:
- Seeking the win/win. In any business negotiation, are you starting with the premise that for one of you to win, the other has to lose? Or, are you approaching it with “we both win or no deal.” Your initial mindset about the outcome will determine the result that you get. You can use “either / or” thinking or “both / and” thinking. And when you are clear up front about creating a double win, solutions emerge that you would not have seen while focused on just you. Very often, you will find that third option that brings a smile to everyone’s faces.
- Taking the high road. When faced with a choice, how do you decide? I’ve always believed that taking the high road works best in the long run. For one thing, there’s definitely less traffic there! In business, everything that goes around comes around. Sometimes, that takes a very long time. But consistently doing the right thing helps you sleep better at night. Now, if you’re saying: “But Cheryl, I don’t always know which is the high road,” I contend that you do know. And after all, just how do you want to be thought of or remembered?
- Approaching crucial conversations with [explicit] positive intent. We all have those moments of truth when we have to face someone with bad news or a difficult message and we’re worried about their reaction. And so, we put it off. And of course, the problem gets bigger. And we’ve also had more time to imagine how badly the conversation will go. What works really well here is starting the conversation by expressing your positive intentions, your concern or respect for the other person and your desire for a positive outcome. Positioning the discussion in this way provides a place to return to if the exchange goes awry. And it helps to keep you grounded in the process.
I realize that the more cynical among us will have difficulty with some of these approaches. They do require some faith in the human spirit. Full disclosure: I’ve been told that one of my biggest problems is always seeing the best in people and situations, i.e. not being critical enough. But I’ve made a conscious decision to be that way anyway. It feels like the right thing to do.
You might be wondering what happened to Jane. Well, if you believe in happy endings, you’re going to love this one. And if you don’t, you’re not going to believe it anyway, though I can vouch for its truth: Jane wrote her book, following her own advice each step of the way. And, just after she finished the first draft, she met the man of her dreams and the love of her life. They fell in love on their first date. They are so happy, planning their future lives together. And I couldn’t be happier for them.