There are several parallels to how to eliminate marital bliss and how to distance your key talent at the office. By purging your mindset of these verbal land mines, you will have a happier marriage and an engaged team.
Psychologists John and Julie Gottman videotaped hundreds of couples and were able to predict, with 90 percent accuracy, whether a couple would make it (or get divorced). These brilliant professionals created a system that allowed a peek into a person's soul with a short meeting. The same four elements that break up marriages will likely push out your best corporate talent. Cultivating your team is critical to improving retention. Here are four approaches to expunge from the dialogue of your marriage as well as that with your employees:
As Don Corleone in The Godfather stated--"it's only business." When addressing a problem, be constructive and straightforward and only use facts. Do not beat around the bush. Speak with few words so the meaning is not lost in a cloud of passion.
Do not use phrases like "you always..." or "you never..." or "why are you so..." These phrases do not yield a positive outcome, because they inevitably lead to heated words and should be banished from your company's dialect.
Always be respectful of your fellow professionals. Treat them with dignity and they will be dedicated to the company. Unfortunately, some business people deploy a coarse style; insults, mockery, sneering, or rolling one's eyes will breed contempt and disengage the best and brightest. These flawed approaches undermine the mission of expanding a company.
Continuous improvement is the cornerstone to success. Every day you want to be a little bit better than yesterday. If your company improves 1 percent a day, you will run circles around the competition. Owning up to mistakes and understanding the root causes of problems are critical for not making the same mistake twice. The only way to up your game is to objectively analyze the setbacks and not tolerate defensiveness. Phrases such as "it's not my fault..." and "it's not fair..." or familiar speech patterns that start off with agreement but end with disagreement are all defensive tactics that do not help a company, or a married couple, improve.
Calling out problems so they can be resolved is critical for success. Sometimes, people do not want to hear the truth. Ignoring problems is no way to move forward. Some react to dialogue by stonewalling, which adds an icy freeze to any potential collaboration to rectify problems. Another harmful technique in this vein is the commonly abused method of changing the subject when confrontational topics are addressed. Both of these styles have to be lost so that improvement can occur and companies, and marriages, can thrive.
The key is that we are in this together, whether a marriage or a company. It is our company's success (and our jobs) vs. our competition's. The focus should always be "We are in this together."
Using the same verbal and body-language techniques that strengthen your marriage will also polish your approach with your corporate associates. These shifts will improve the profitability of your company, because your best players will stay with your company for decades, not weeks.