That’s easy. It’s a people problem. That’s what 90% of your problems in life are about. How do you deal with the people around you? So here’s the first step:
Commit to being honest. Not blunt honest, kind honest. But honest.
Most situations go off the rails because we’re not willing to say what we believe to be true. So here’s how to approach different people in your life that you’re having issues with:
An older person or someone more senior to you in the organization
Approach them with humility, like a respectful son or daughter would. Don’t go in with guns blazing. When you attack, they automatically defend. So don’t attack. Say, “I feel like there’s tension in our relationship and I’d like to know if there’s something I need to apologize for?” Then see where the conversation goes. There’s nothing to defend against. Only an opener to a conversation that may lead somewhere productive.
Or try this one if you feel especially brave: “Are you open to hearing about a way that I think you could be a stronger leader?” You’re asking permission. Fortune favors the brave.
Someone younger than you or more junior in the organization
Approach them as if you were a (good) older brother or sister. Be directive, kind, and redemptive. Say, “I see something that’s getting in your way, and I’d like to talk with you about it because I value the relationship and want you to win.” People believe others who they think are in their corner. Show them that you are.
A lateral co-worker
Approach them with humility. Don’t accuse and don’t assume bad motives. Hold the highest thought. Say something like, “The way that meeting ended made me feel uncomfortable, and I wanted to speak with you about it before I went home. Do you have a quick minute to talk?
The quicker you deal with things, the less painful they are. The longer you wait, the bigger deal it becomes. So embrace candor, and deal with the monster while it’s still a baby. The older it gets, the bigger it grows.
Getting ahead is about getting started!