Do you wish you had the ability to inspire people into action so they could more easily create greater success and rewarding results? Would you like to know how to foster willing cooperation in ways that everyone enjoys?
Whether you already have good communication skills, you’re taking business communication courses and are practicing what you’re learning, or if you realize it’s time to look into new business communication methods, this article will help you take your business communication to the next level by learning to create alignment with other people.
What do we mean by alignment, and how can you create it? Read on to find out
Alignment – It’s Not Just for Tires
If you’re like most people, it’s likely that the only time you think about alignment is during your regular car maintenance. While that’s not the “alignment” we’re talking about here, it does operate on the same principle.
In order for your car to function at its best, it’s important that your tires are aligned – that they’re all moving in the same direction. The same is true for any business relationship; they’ll be at their best when the people involved are aligned and moving in the same direction toward a result that is desired by everyone.
What we’re talking about here is not about improving your communication skills or just learning new listening techniques. Establishing effective business communication, or any interaction where people need to work together to create the best outcome, begins with creating alignment.
Think about it this way: in life, we go about the activity of our lives, heading in our own directions while we’re trying to achieve our own results. At the same time, we are all inter-connected with each other. As we try to achieve the results we want, these interconnections put limits on how far we can go in our direction without the involvement of others.
However, when we have alignment with others about what we want and we start sharing the same vision, it makes it much easier to cooperate with the others involved to get our desired outcomes. Alignment opens the way for mutual satisfaction and greater success.
The First Step is Internal Alignment
Before you can create alignment with someone else, you need to identify and be able to express what’s most important to you about the outcome you want. To do this, you’ll need to identify the underlying values hidden within your desired outcome.
As an example, perhaps your team tends to come lat e to meetings and this impacts your ability to accomplish the objectives of the meeting. So you want everyone in the office to show up 10 minutes before a meeting starts. When you dig down to find the hidden value, you might discover that consideration is very important to you, or you might highly value efficiency and effectiveness. Just remember, within every desired outcome there are values that motivate you to want that in the first place.
Key Points for an Alignment Conversation
Once you identify your own underlying values, it’s time to discover the values that you share within the team, partnership or group. You start this discovery process by expressing the values you’ve identified as important to you in your work environment. Then you ask if those things are also important to the others involved, and if they would be willing to explore ways to create that kind of experience.
As you start the alignment conversation, it’s important to remember to keep it as strategy-free as possible. During this beginning stage, we suggest that you make an agreement with the other person to try and identify what’s important to you about the issue at hand , such as starting meetings on time, before you figure out any strategies to get the specifics of what you want. Once you’ve agreed upon your shared vision, there will be plenty of time to move on to the specifics of how to reach your goals.
It’s also wise if you and the other person, or group, agree to avoid spending time talking about the failures of the past. (Bringing up the past can be useful, but only if it is done to understand the values that may have been missing in the past, but not to assign fault or to justify your skepticism.)
Some other things to include in the alignment conversation include:
- A willingness to negotiate strategies that are mutually agreeable
- A commitment to let go of judgments and criticisms
- An agreement to celebrate all wins that come from this conversation
Putting Alignment Conversations to Work
Alignment conversations are the process of discovering your shared values and creating a shared vision. The shared vision you create might be something like: having a more harmonious working relationships, being more effective, or increasing productivity.
Once you are sharing the same vision, you’re now working toward the same end result — the big picture of what you all want. This will make it easier to create situations that produce results that everyone will enjoy. Once you’ve define your shared vision, you’re ready to effectively negotiate strategies to achieve your desired results.
When everyone is making agreements from a shared vision, you’ll start rolling down the road to cooperation and teamwork with far fewer bumps than you encountered before. Alignment and shared vision are the foundation of cooperation and teamwork that will increase productivity and create rewarding results for everyone involved.