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Dec 11, 201211:29 AMForward HR

with Diane Hamilton and Nilesh Patel

Walk a mile …

Walk a mile …

“We always admire the other fellow more after we have tried to do his job.” – William Feather, American author and publisher (1889-1981)

An age-old problem in business is how to get individuals to work well together. I’ve had several leaders say to me, “If we didn’t have to deal with all of this stuff, we could concentrate on running the business.” The “stuff” in question is human dynamics – what makes individuals and teams work, and what most definitely gets in the way of productivity and performance.

One way to begin to address many interpersonal conflicts is to help people walk a mile in the shoes of the other party. While this can be accomplished through job shadowing, it can be time-consuming to get a full appreciation of what the other party contends with on a regular basis.

Another approach is to facilitate a dialogue between the two individuals (or even teams). The goal is to better understand (and appreciate) what the other party contributes, the value he or she adds, and the challenges he or she faces. It is helpful to remind everyone that it is beneficial to listen and understand the needs of the other party first (Covey’s “seek first to understand”). This is accomplished by increasing an understanding of what is/isn’t working from the other party’s perspective.

The following questions are useful for both parties to ponder as a way to prepare for the conversation:

  1. What are your biggest challenges to being as successful as you can be?
  2. In this conflict, what are the core needs of the other party? What is important to him or her?
  3. What are your core needs? What is important to you?
  4. What do you value about the other party? Appreciate?
  5. If you could change one or two things that would impact the overall effectiveness of how you work with the other party, what would they be? (Be sure to focus on what you can do, not just what the other person can do.)
  6. What are one or two first steps you can take that will help you move in the direction just outlined?

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About This Blog

 Diane Hamilton, PCC, SPHR, is the owner and founder of Calibra, a coaching and consulting firm focused on maximizing leadership potential. Nilesh Patel is the principal attorney of the Mahadev Law Group, LLC, which focuses on human resources and employment law issues for organizations. He can be reached at Both bloggers are members of Wisconsin SHRM, which is dedicated to being the state leader in HR management and the premier source for HR expertise and resources. More information can be found at You can follow the WI SHRM blog at



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