Do you find working with others difficult? Do you feel that at times you have to tolerate strange behaviour from colleagues and bosses?

Why not turn the tables and ask yourself if you are the one with the strange behaviour?

Sun Tzu once said: “Know yourself, know your enemy, and you shall win a hundred battles without loss.” This means, it is important to know your strengths and weaknesses as well as those of others.

When you understand this, you will be able to manage yourself and others better. As a manager, this is a core competency required for effective leadership.

The CRA Model

Many times, you do not know that your behaviour has an influence on others and the way you behave may motivate or discourage someone. If you are serious about improving your behaviour, there are three things you need to know, which can be summarised as the CRA model:

1. Consciousness

This means being conscious of your behaviour and how it impacts others. To improve your awareness:

* Seek feedback from others. Ask if they have noticed any undesirable behaviour on your part and seek advice on how you can improve. Be clear about the instances that led to this behaviour and reflect on its cause and impact.

* Understand how your team feels about you especially about your communication and operational styles. Does your presence cause silence from others or create engagement? Ask yourself: “Has my behaviour caused team members to leave the organisation?” If so, what are you going to do about it?

As best-selling author and management expert Steven Covey says: “Seek first to understand before being understood.”

When you are open to feedback, you begin to be conscious of things you did not notice previously. These are your blind spots — patterns of negative behaviour that others notice which you are not aware of. Acknowledging these patterns is your first step to self-discovery.

2. Recognition

The next improvement step is to make a choice: are you going to take feedback seriously or continue with your current behaviour?

When you recognise that you need to improve, you can swallow your pride, and tell yourself that you are going to be a better person. Making such a choice is not easy. Are you ready to work towards behaviours that will help build relationships? If you are, then move on to the next step.

3. Adjustment

This involves looking at how you can work better with other people by making adjustments to yourself through a process called “behaviour style flexing”.

This means that if two persons are dominant, one has to play a less dominant role. However, this does not mean that you give in to whatever the other party wants. It suggests that you will have to be less dominant but continue to work through the power of influence.

For example, if someone is stubborn and demanding, then you play a listening role. Allow the other party to speak, then put forth your views and concerns without behaving in an aggressive manner.

Make the change

If you want to build effective relationships, you need to seek feedback and make a conscious effort to change. Recognise that you have strengths as well as areas for improvement.

As the saying goes: “We cannot direct the wind…but we can adjust our sails.” Similarly, you cannot change others but you can change yourself to build good relationships.