During a recent trip to Glasgow I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr David Fraser, author of Relationship Mastery: A Business Professional’s Guide. David is a genuine force for good and his book is a really useful guide to going about improving your relationships - both personal and professional. In this interview David shares some of his thoughts on this fascinating subject.
1. As someone with a background in engineering and management, how did you get involved in relationship work?
Well, I learned eventually that being a good engineer, manager or even leader wasn’t enough: it was how well I dealt with other people in general that determined whether I was successful or not. It was my ability (or inability) to handle all the complex relationships involved that determined the outcome.
2. So what did you see as the problem?
I felt I had never really received an education in this. Life most professional people, my training had emphasised first the technical and later the managerial skills—loosely-speaking, all the “left-brain” stuff. I felt there was a crying need for a methodical “how to” approach to the “right-brain,” subjective, emotional side.
3. How did you set about solving the problem that you saw?
I was fortunate to meet a great teacher of practical psychology, NLP, mindfulness and other aspects of what I would refer to as ancient wisdom. Not only did that help me with the issues I had at the time, I also thought this was much of the answer I was looking for. I gradually gathered from what I learned over about a four-year period in what I call a formula.
4. So what is the formula for relating well to other people?
You can see this as both a family of skill areas and a series steps in a learning journey. It begins with paying proper attention to other people—bluntly, getting out of our own heads—then upgrading our attitude and developing our self-control. Then we have several aspects of understanding what makes people different and how to tune in to that. Working with what’s important to people comes next. After that, there’s understanding what people say at a deeper level, then what’s important to us and how we balance all that. And finally—the thing that rounds it all off—how we handle our human interconnectedness. That in the end is the most powerful thing. That’s the formula in outline. Every element merits learning and practice in itself.
5. What makes the most difference at first, do you think?
Well, the first step in the formula is first for a reason. The thing that makes the most difference most of the time is being conscious of where our attention is—on ourselves or the other person. That sounds elementary and yet doing a great job of putting the other person first takes great skill and discipline, especially when the situation is difficult. And that’s when it matters most, of course.
6. What kind of effect can this systematic approach have?
It changes dealing with other people and the emotional side of that from being a mysterious, nebulous problem to an area of life that we can understand, enjoy and excel at.
7. How can we learn these skills for ourselves?
The first step is just to switch on to the subject. Much useful wisdom is hidden in plain sight. I’ve gather what I’ve found into my book Relationship Mastery: A Business Professional’s Guide, which is available anywhere books are sold. I run workshops and things like that too, of course. More information at http://www.drdavidfraser.com.