Applying The Four Agreements To Business

You’ve heard the expression; it takes two to tango. What the expression doesn’t say is that in order to tango, those 2 people need to work closely together. They need to be in sync which comes through communication, practice and patience. Ultimately, they need to trust each other. Great tango dancers will take your breath away as you watch them move as though they are one.

The same is true in the workplace. For businesses to function well, both leaders and employees need to work closely together. They need to be in sync which comes through communication, practice and patience. In order for teams to produce great results, they need to trust each other.

Yes, there will be many times when someone is clumsy and steps on the others toes. This is a given. Instead of getting upset, making assumptions and withdrawing, true success comes from coming back together, working through the missteps and keep practicing until you find the rhythm together.

Communication is a major area where toes get stepped on, feelings get hurt and damage is done that hurts the health, vitality and profitability of the organization, including the people who work inside it.

I’ve been training leaders and employees for the last 15 years in various subjects. Recently, almost all of my work is being dedicated on how we communicate and engage with each other. Specifically, helping teams navigate what I call “Crunchy Conversations.”

Years ago I read a little book that changed how I showed up as a leader, as an employee and as a human in business and in life. That little book was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. These four agreements are great tools to practice and work with that will help you successfully navigate any Crunchy Conversation or any other situation in business or in life.

This is the first part in a 5 part series where I will be taking a deep dive look at each one of the four agreements and the practical business application for them.

Here’s a sneak peek of each agreement:

1. Be impeccable with your word

2. Don’t take anything personally

3. Don’t make assumptions

4. Always do your best

How these apply in business:

Be impeccable with your word. The pitfall most of us fall into is that we don’t say what we mean and we don’t mean what we say. Our internal people-pleaser shows up to the office and convinces you not to have that direct conversation because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Instead, you give a watered-down version that completely misses the mark.

How often have you experienced someone in the office saying one thing to someone directly and then something completely different when they are not present? This is an example of not being impeccable with your word. It creates distrust which is the breeding ground that toxicity grows from.

Be sure to tune into my next article posting for a deep dive into this topic. It’s truly fascinating to learn the many layers of what this agreement truly means and how it can completely transform your career and your life.

Don’t take anything personally. Whew! Easier said than done. This was something I personally really struggled with early in my career. The pitfall most of us fall into here is that when we hear criticism, we make it mean something about ourselves, about the essence of who we are, when it’s really just about how the business needs to operate.

It’s not a personal attack, even if it feels like one. In my Crunchy Conversations day long workshops, I take participants through exercises to help them get unhooked and perform at higher levels than before simply by embracing this one agreement.

Don’t make assumptions. Again, easier said than done. The pitfall here is that most people are making assumptions so instantaneously that they don’t even know they are doing it. It takes a high level of awareness and consciousness to be able to identify when and what assumptions you are making in order to re-frame from doing so. The key here is practice, practice, practice AND having a partner to reflect your thinking is essential in raising your awareness.

Always do your best. We could probably spend a lovely afternoon watching the sunset from a fabulous rooftop happy hour discussing whether or not people come to work every day ready and willing to always do their best. In the end, we may or may not agree. The one point I’ll venture to guess that we can agree to is that we often assume that the other person isn’t doing their best. We let our frustrations get in the way of basic human dignity and assert power over by using demeaning language or tone, sarcasm, or letting our frustrations show too much without directly addressing the real issue.

What would change in your organization if everyone simply took on this one agreement—to trust that everyone else was always doing their best?

What would be different? How would it feel different to go to work? How would dynamics in meetings change? Would you be more likely to collaboratively problem solve? Would your ability to create innovation solutions improve? Give it a test drive for the next 6 months and see what happens. If you do, write me and let me know your results!

Most organizations are clomping around stepping on everyone’s toes and the people are miserable. They are bruised, exhausted and on the edge of burnout. They aren’t working together, in sync, like the great tango dancers.

Trust is the critical success ingredient that most businesses are missing. Embracing and embodying the Four Agreements is an excellent place to start building a culture of trust. Trust translates into profit. If you aren’t happy with your bottom line in your business, look at the level of trust in your business and start there.

Stay tuned for the next of this 5 part series for our deep dive into The Four Agreements, how they apply to business and how they can impact your bottom line.

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