#97 Open-Minded Connections: Working With People Not Exactly Like Me

I got a call from an old friend a couple weeks ago - his name is Dave. We hung out quite a bit thirty years ago when we both lived in Raleigh, NC and we still talk occasionally. Dave is a self-proclaimed country boy who likes to hunt, fish, tour in his motor home, and ride motorcycles with his wife. He’s also mechanically inclined, built his own airplane and actually had the balls to fly it.

old+friends.jpg

None of those things are on my to do list. And to boot, I would guess our political and religious views aren’t perfectly aligned either.

Yet we’ve always gotten along great and I could definitely work with Dave. How can this be?

FIT, ALIGNMENT, ENVIRONMENT, CONNECTION

When I’ve historically talked about ME - the traits that define the environment where I do my best work - I’ve been rigid. Preaching that business owners must cling to their core traits and be intolerant of violations. I’ve even told you to refuse to hire people that don’t fit those behavioral standards.

And every time I do that I worry that I sound closed-minded. Intolerant. “Be like me or I won’t work with you”. But that’s not where I’m coming from at all.

Let’s take a single example from my own Map. I'm all about beDIRECT, meaning I tend to speak in a direct style. Not going to berate you or try to embarrass you, but if your work strikes me as subpar, I'll say that.

And if you’re trying to give me feedback and you’re soft pedaling it, I’m going to ask you to spit it out. Say what you really think. In my eyes that’s the most time-efficient, respectful thing we can do to help each other grow.

So, if you don’t like this style of exchange, you wouldn’t be a good employee at Map of Me. It doesn’t mean you’re not skilled, heck you might go start a competitive business and kick my rear end. It just means that we aren’t going to work well together. It would be a mutually-frustrating suboptimal arrangement.

Having said that, don't take my point to the extreme. We don't have to be carbon copies of each other to work together. We just have to be within range in those very few important areas such that we can understand and respect each others ways. 

For instance, at my favorite employer of all time, Powersoft, I was more direct than most of the people I worked with. The President once said, “I don’t ever have to guess where you stand on things”. But I was within the range of tolerance.  And my other core traits, KNOW and DISTILL, were also well within tolerance. So I was in a setting where I could focus on my work rather than trying to figure out what was going on around me. I fit the environment, I was aligned, I could connect and grow.

WHY WE CLICK

So Dave and I are different in a lot of ways, but we click in the areas where it matters to me

He digs deep in his areas of interest and expertise - fits well with my core trait of KNOW.
He tells it like it is - fits well with my core trait of beDIRECT.
He keeps things simple - fits well with my core trait of DISTILL. 

And that’s why we’ve remained long distance friends all these years. And why there’s no doubt in my mind we could work together and help each other grow - regardless of our other differences.

This fit / alignment / environment / connection stuff isn’t about being exclusive or bigoted. It’s about finding a tiny number of traits that are part of your core. And then surrounding yourself with people that respect and share them.

THE MAP

(This site is all about building a Map that will help me do work and life better. So at the end of each post I check in to see if any changes / insights come to mind.)

I’ve talked about ME from a SELF and WORK Map perspective many times. So this post has just been a recap. 

One thing you might want to take note of is that I’m in process of re-doing the Map to make it easier to understand. And in that redesign, the key words WHY, ME, IF, CAN are being replaced by simple questions. It makes each of the sections more obvious rather than starting with a code word where you have to guess my definition. 

So this will happen over the next few days as part of a complete site redesign.

Stay tuned.