Research shows that even with the best products and business practices, you still need strong relationships to succeed in this marketplace. The following is a roadmap to turn personality differences into positive business results.

Respect is at the heart of building business relationships virtual roundtables. It is the glue that holds together the functioning of teams, partnerships and managing relationships. (Up and down, peer-to-peer, internally and externally). Respecting the right to differ is a concept like apple pie and motherhood. We all agree with it but can we truly foster it?

The first step is to identify the specific areas of difference. Many people see things in terms of rights and wrongs. “My way” is right and therefore “other ways” are wrong. When a situation is viewed through this lens, a power struggle ensues. When, however, a situation can be seen through the lens of difference, and a position is simply a matter of opinion not fact, then cooperation and compromise is possible. Identifying and understanding differences allows people to shift their position to one of compromise and negotiation. The following steps are the roadmap to success:

  • Respect leads to accepting a person for what he/she is.
  • Accepting a person where they are, creates an environment of trust.
  • Trust, leads to a willingness to be open to:new opportunities, new collaborations, new strategies, new ideas, new products.

Once you understand the above you can use the following list to avoid power struggles, which drain energy from your effectiveness. Here is our top 10 list for type of differences to look for.

1. Communication Styles. All people do not communicate in the same fashion. There are many inventories available to identify differing styles. Once you understand a person’s style, this knowledge can lead to respect not conflict.

2. Non-Verbal Communication. All forms of communication must be considered. This form of communication is more covert, but not any less important. Non-verbal communication includes; body language, and tone. Non-verbal communication may differ from the verbal. With this additional understanding of what is really being communicated more effective collaboration is possible.

3. Learning Styles. People learn in different ways. When this concept is in the forefront of understanding then communications can be geared to various styles and will meet with greater success.

4. Differing Values. This concept can be a little tricky. While values need to be identified and respected, there are times when conflicting values can be so different that they cannot coexist on the same team. When mutually exclusive values are encountered, collaboration is not recommended.

5. Boundaries. We all have different space needs and boundary needs. (Boundaries are the limits you place on the behavior of others around you.) The first step is to be aware of peoples’ boundaries and then to use this understanding to approach them respectfully. This new behavior often avoids conflict and strengthens relationships.

6. The Self. Self-respect is a vital and primary building block that supports the formation of relationships. By being aware of your own needs and styles you create a healthy foundation and the ensuing relationships are more solid.