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Individuals need to avoid communicating on a superficial level because relationships are the currency of the future. In an MBA Family Friendly presentation at Henley Business School Africa, Paula Quinsee, a relationship expert, explained that 90% of problems in relationships are due to poor communication, both at work and at home.

“It is important to understand how we communicate. A good starting point is to put ourselves in the other person’s world to get an understanding of where they are at, rather than take the stance that ‘I am right and you are wrong’. When the relational space does not feel safe, we tend to disconnect,” she says.

“People react differently in conflict situations. They find different coping mechanisms which can include blaming, asking for a transfer, resigning, becoming victims, or self-sabotage. When we blame, we avoid acknowledging our contribution to the problem or situation. Other people may resort to gossip, others joke and make fun of the situation whilst some use avoidance tactics.”

Ms Quinsee believes that we are all leaders in one aspect or another, whether at home or in the workplace, even though we may not have that specific title.

“We need to remember that ‘managers’ light a fire under people, but true leaders light a fire in people,” she says.

Ms Quinsee explains that communication is key to any relationship and for real conversations to take place, one needs to have a high emotional quotient (EQ). This also includes elements such as social intelligence, motivational, cultural, financial and a person’s courageous quotient, which is a measure of how courageous a person is in addressing or confronting issues in an emotionally mature manner. Regarding one’s financial quotient, this relates to a person’s relationship with money and how they manage their money,” she says.

“Changes in behaviour only happen over time. We need to first unlearn poor habits of the past while introducing positive habits. A negative habit could be our tendency to embrace our comfort zones which are comforting and familiar. In doing so we run the risk of becoming complacent and lose our ability to become innovative and creative.”

Ms Quinsee says there are four basic pillars that need to be in place to have positive relationships: Trust, Honestly, Respect and Communication.

“In a team, there are inhibitors that hold back relationships and the ability to function effectively as a team. These includes ridicule, intimidation, perfectionism, cynicism, criticism, self-doubt, addiction and stereotyping. We also need to eliminate the organisational elephants such as racism, bullying, gender imbalance and racist behaviour.”

On the other hand, the enablers that engage teams include communication, respect, creating an environment that is free of fear and seeking the best ideas to succeed. Positive communication encourages questions and an environment should be created where participants are all given the opportunity to think and speak.

“Overall we need to manage our conflict management styles in other words the ‘Lion’ or ‘Tiger’ and ‘tortoise’ mentality. It is also important to remember that there is no such thing as failure only feedback. If one ‘fails’ at something we should seek to find the feedback and utilise it as a learning opportunity of what needs to be addressed and changed in order to move forward on one’s growth path. It is key to note that money doesn’t make the world go round – relationships do.” concludes Ms Quinsee.