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DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m having trouble communicating with one of my co-workers. It seems as though we bump heads about the smallest issues. I try to see his point of view on things, but most times his logic just doesn’t make sense to me. How can I be more open to understanding his way of doing things? — Co-Worker Issues
DEAR CO-WORKERS ISSUES: This is where the power of active listening and observing comes in. Admit to your co-worker that you are having trouble seeing his perspective on certain things. Ask him to help you to better understand his ideas. This will signal to him that you care enough to attempt to get what he has to say. When a task is before you, talk to him about how you choose to approach it. Ask him what he would choose to do. Look to see if there is a middle ground. Or, whenever possible, divide the task so that you can do it your way and he can do it his way. Then you can compare to see who was more efficient or if both ways work.
Further, your company may want to enforce guidelines on how certain tasks should be fulfilled so that there are standards in place that everyone must follow.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife’s nephew just moved in with us after getting into some trouble in his hometown. He’s a good kid, but he has been around the wrong crowds, which has influenced him negatively. What are some ways I can help him to adjust to his new environment with us and leave his old ways of thinking behind? — Nephew Reform
DEAR NEPHEW REFORM: This process will take time, so I encourage patience all around. You need to establish a bond of trust with your nephew that allows for open communication and boundaries. First, let him know what the rules of your household are, everything from chores to curfew to language/profanity to alcohol and drugs to visits at home.
Establish a check-in time when the two of you talk each day. You can start by telling each other a highlight of your day and a challenge of your day. Both of you should participate. This creates a framework for engagement that is somewhat neutral because you are both doing it. Nobody likes being told what to do all the time. If you share in experience-building, you can build trust with him.
Talk to your nephew about choices. We all have the ability to make choices for ourselves. Our choices guide our steps. He needs to start thinking about different choices that he may want to make in order to center himself. Talk about your life and choices you have made — both good and bad. If you only share the good, he won’t think you are being honest and authentic. Be sure to add things that you have done that had negative consequences and how you prevailed. Talk about learning lessons and applying them to new experiences. Teach your nephew about values and choices so that he can begin to apply those lessons to his life today.