5 Tips for Getting to “We”

We, all of us, have myriad challenges and opportunities. Economic, social, political, technological, medical, you name it; they’re here and they’re formidable. Unfortunately, no one has all the answers. However, collectively, “we” really do have the answers. They’re certainly not all simple ones, or ones that come in convenient one size fits all formats. But people who are willing to work together always come up with solutions. Putting aside the “me” when working with others and focusing on the “we” in problem resolution definitely leads to results – in business, social and virtually all situations. However, as simple as this sounds it’s not necessarily easy. So, practicing the following habits, when working through difficult problems with others, quickly leads to “we” and makes problem solving considerably … easier.

1. Find Mutual Purpose – When engaging in dialogue and problem solving, it’s important to find mutual purpose. This means being authentic about individual wants and needs, genuine about understanding other points of view, and persistent about finding common ground that moves multiple stakeholders forward.

2. Lead with Facts – Sticking to the facts will keep dialogue and problem solving on track. Most people really can handle the truth, as long as they have the complete and unvarnished truth. So beware of opinions, often formulated with just some of the facts, and let all the facts lead.

3. Choose Your Words Carefully – What we say and the way we say it matters. Getting to “we” requires using words that others understand, and the presentation of ideas that others can buy into. Always consider who will be hearing the message you wish to send, and how they might receive it. Don’t worry about political correctness, but do care about others and recognize they too want to get to “we.”

4. Avoid My Way or The Highway – Simply put, there’s always another way. Alternatives are not always to everyone’s liking, but we have to recognize there are many. It’s a complete “sucker’s choice” when dialogue turns binary leading to a “right way” / “wrong way” debate. Getting to “we” means avoiding the easy decision to choose one extreme or the other for the short term, and working hard to discover the more difficult decision that is best for the long term.

5. Ask don’t tell – Listening to others is the best way to surface more facts, alternatives, conclusions and potential solutions. It’s absolutely essential for effective problem solving. Even if you’re clairvoyant, the simple act of asking gets people to join you and get closer to “we.”

Try these 5 tips for getting to “we”, add a few of your own (here’s a great blog post about finding common purpose with customers from Deep Customer Connections), and you will soon be addressing the myriad of challenges and opportunities much more effectively.