My Rules or Your Rules – Either or?

business_dealI was reading Jian Shuo Wang’s (CEO at Baixing) post “Should I follow your rules or Should You Follow Mine? on linked in the other day. (The post can be found here.) The gist of the post was that he hired a contractor to do some masonry work and the contractor and he didn’t get along very well. He was on the verge of firing the contractor when a friend explained to him that the contractor’s behaviour was related to his need for some money. Mr. Wang gave the contractor a small amount of money and complimented him on his good work and the relationship immediately changed to a very good one and the project was completed to Mr. Wang’s satisfaction. Mr. Wang concludes that the contractor had one set of rules and he had another. It was only by adopting the contractor’s rules that would he get the service he wanted.

Let’s leave aside the ethical aspects of paying bribes or extra money to get done what you have already agreed a price for. That is a whole other issue which I could write several books on! Let‘s instead focus on how Mr. Wang arrived at the problem in the first place. Mr. Wang assumed that the contractor’s world view was the same as his and thus the rule set would be the same. Some well-placed, and well-chosen questions during the process of hiring this contractor could have avoided this situation and indicated what the contractor’s expectations were. At the same time Mr. Wang could have made clear what his expectations were. Learning to ask the right questions, and more importantly understand the answers one receives, is perhaps the most fundamental part of interpersonal communications. Becoming skilled at doing so allows one to avoid the uncomfortable position of either your rules or my rules and arrive at a set of mutually agreed rules. It only takes one person to start this process – why not make it you.

Gregg is a retired Commander, Royal Canadian Navy. He combines his nearly 42 years of Naval experience in Command, operational, and staff appointments afloat and ashore, nationally and internationally with his expertise as a Board Certified Master Coach, trainer, and educator. He conducts seminars, workshops, and courses, as well as 1-on-1 and group coaching focused on Leadership and Communications excellence.
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