Going from Combative to Collaborative

Going from Combative to Collaborative

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Mr. Biz Radio: Going from Combative to Collaborative

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:


Welcome to Mr. Biz radio, Biz. Talk for Biz owners. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth.


All right, welcome to another episode of Mr. Biz Radio with me, Mr. Biz Ken, weren't easy for me to say. Um, guys, this week we're gonna talk about something that impacts every single one of us. I know a lot of business owners, entrepreneurs watch the show, listen to the show. Uh, we have people that do other things, corporate people as well, but predominantly entrepreneurs and business owners. But this is something that impacts all of us. Our guest this week is none of the, this is Teresa Harlow. Um, actually, that's, that's your professional name now, right? She, she's actually subsequently been married. We were actually talking about that a little bit. I, what a pain in the butt is for women to have to rebrand or not rebrand their last name changes. But, um, so there wrote a book, as you can see, "Combative to Collaborative", which talks primarily about, um, relationships with your former, your, your, you know, you share children with, with someone.


However, she's, she's gonna be writing another book, uh, that's gonna kind of expand on that a little bit. And so I wanted to have Theresa on talk about managing those difficult relationships. We all have people in our lives. Again, Bob down the hallway, whoever it might be, could be someone in your family. That's a huge pain in the butt. They're difficult to deal with. How do you go from combative to collaborative? How do you kind of work that out? I had a guy, I won't even go down the right path. I'm sure he doesn't watch the show, but I had a guy when I worked at JP Morgan, who was the biggest thorn in my side for like three or four years in my career. But I had to make it work with this guy. I really could have used Teresa's help back then because this guy was just, oh my gosh, he was so difficult.


And I'm sure everyone has that. So are you ready to fix that difficult relationship with a coworker, client or a supplier, whether she was co-parenting, running a business, or working with large corporate teams there, Harlow's been transforming combative relationships into collaborative partnerships for over 30 years. Yeah, she started when she was seven. Um, she doesn't have a best selling, has a best selling book in which she shares her magic combative collaborative, the co-parenting Code. Please welcome author, speaker, coach, and meditator mediator meditator. I throw an extra tea in there, mediator. I meditator once in a while. And by the way, I wanna, before she even says anything, I wanna let everyone know while she is an electric speaker, if you happen to notice her arms disappeared at any point. She's not on fire. She's not being electrocuted. It just is mix mixing with the background here.


So I wanted to mention that. But anyway, welcome to the show, Teresa. Thank you, Ken. Yeah, so I've known Teresa for 10, 12 years. Oh, it's been longer than that. So probably coming up on 20, maybe in dog years. I don't know. Right. <laugh>. And so literally, I don't even know why. Duh. Um, she comment, I think when you commented on like a LinkedIn post or something, you're like, Hey, when are you gonna have me on the show? And I'm like, why haven't I had her on this show? Because again, we're gonna talk about is something that impacts all of us, and, you know, like covered things from all different angles and not just all business crap. Like some of this stuff is, you know, not only your per your business life, but your professional, sorry, your personal life as well. So, so before we get into all that, tell us a little bit about your preneur journey. So I know actually there, and I worked not together, but at the same time at JP Morgan. Uh, did, uh,


Yeah. So my journey, um, is a mix of corporate, um, corporate technology, corporate leadership, and leading large teams to implement really game changing types of, uh, technology solutions across big teams. Um, and I spent the better part of 30 of the, those 30 plus years in that environment in a few different organizations, and also spent some time consulting as well. Um, but throughout that, I mean, you know, when you're part of a large organization, uh, they go through reorgs. There's acquisitions, changes in leadership, and people like to, you know, there's changes of the guard, and you get reorged. And honestly, it doesn't matter how, uh, rockstar of a performer you are in your job, you could become a victim of, uh, a reorganization. So that happened to me a few times, <laugh> throughout that corporate career. And every time I would encounter that, I almost felt like, you know, it was kind of like, I felt like I had approached maybe an expiration date with that, with that particular role.


Anyway. Yeah. So it gave me an opportunity to do something different. And I always felt compelled to follow a personal passion. Um, as you know, I, at one point did the vocal coaching mm-hmm. <affirmative> and the performance, and was in a rock band. And yeah, that's something I had always dreamed of doing. And I actually earned a living at it, um, for a good five years. Um, so that was an experience I would trade for nothing. It was the most fun, uh, time of my life in terms of professionally mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but, you know, the reality of business ownership sinks, uh, it, it rears its ugly head when you have to continuously regenerate business and provide for your own benefits in terms of healthcare. And of course, you never get a paid vacation, right? So I go through these senses of, well, I'm gonna be a corporate employee and get all the perks and, you know, the steady income and not worry about regenerating that business and just do a really good job. And then I get kind of worn out on it. Somebody reorg and I would move on to another passion. So I did the vocal coaching, I went into consulting back in technology, then I moved out of that, um, I think 2008. All of my, all of my career, um, changes really align to downturns in the economy.


I mean, it kinda makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and kind of a hard time to start businesses, but if you can make it during those times, it, then you will come out the other side pretty well. Um, but I was a wellness coach at one point, and all of these, again, align to personal passions, something that I've learned that I just wanna share it with others. I want other people to be able to resolve their problems that they're facing and get, not only resolve them, but get beyond them, and then, uh, move into, um, an existence and a happiness that they really thrive to for, um, so, you know, in and out of corporate, um, leadership roles and into entrepreneurship. Um, and then lastly, I decided to leave, um, the big, you know, the biggest bank in the world, <laugh>, um, to pursue this business. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in which I really help, uh, people to resolve conflicts across all types of relationships,


Which again, super important. I mean, again, it crosses all different things. Yeah. Um, so, and actually this is probably gonna be a really good time for you, a bad time, right? The economy goes in the crapper, people start to make bad decisions, people start to get a little cranky and all that stuff. So you're probably gonna break your phones and be ringing off the hook over the, the next six to 12 months, I think, unfortunately. Good for you. Unfortunately, for


Situations, but, well, yeah. And it's true. You know, a lot of people being pinned up together in the pandemic, uh, decided either they really loved each other and really liked spending time together, or they just had to get the heck out of it, right? Um, as soon as they they could. And so you're seeing an influx of divorces and, and all of that. But, um, you know, really the, the, the background I had both in, in corporate leadership where you solve problems that involve technology, but there's technology processing people. You can buy the technology or build it or change what you've got. You can modify processes, create new process or, or processes or eliminate them. But if the people equation isn't working, you're, you're kind of screwed. Yeah. You have to fix that. You have to address it. Um, and the same thing goes if you are a co-parent.


So, yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Well, look, we're gonna hit a break here, guys. Again, talking with Teresa Harlow. You can find out more on our website, teresaharlow.com. Um, follow her. She's on LinkedIn. She has a YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter, and she's on the gram. Okay, you gotta check around the gram as well. Um, so come back after the break, we'll give the Mr. Biz tip of the week, continue talking with there to help us really deal with some of the PS in the world. You know what I'm talking about? PS painting the apple that, uh, so come back after the break on Mr. Biz Radio.


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All right, welcome


All right, welcome back to the show. And it's time for Mr. Biz tip of the week. And this one's gonna sound a little, a little soft serving maybe, but it's, it's true. If you don't know your financials, you're not gonna last. You need to know gross margin. You need to know your debt service coverage. You need to know your net margin. If you don't know those numbers and know 'em really well, I know a guy who might better help you, first of all. Second of all, seriously, you gotta make sure that you, you're keeping an eye on those things that I, I've talked about some other shows before, but I called mim mind. Your margins. You could actually be increasing your revenue, but losing money because you're selling your product at 10 bucks and it actually costs you 12 bucks to produce the product. You don't even realize it if you're not into the numbers enough.


So, uh, you gotta know your numbers. Uh, super, super important. It doesn't matter how fantastic you are, what you do, or the service or the widget or whatever, if you don't know your numbers, you're not gonna last long, even if you're really good at what you do. So make sure you keep an eye on those financials, and I know a guy can help you if you don't. So, <laugh>, that is Mr. Biz tip of the week. All right. Talking with Teresa Harlow. So Teresa, um, picking up where we left off last segment. So you've had all these well, well-rounded experience, right? You're freaking lead singer on a rock band. You worked in and out corporate on large teams, small teams, uh, technology stuff. Which by the way, I, I want to touch on something you said right at the end of the segment, technology, especially with relationships.


I know in my corporate career there, not always, but there's a lot of times friction, right? Oh yeah. Because the business says we want a product that, a software, whatever it might be, a technology product that does these seven things. And technology goes, we can't do those seven things, or it's gonna cost 10 million to do those seven things. And so that friction, right? Yep. So I'm sure you learn a lot from that. So from all those different experiences, being a business owner, being an entrepreneur, being an author, being a speaker, what's like one, one or maybe two career lessons that you learned with all that experience that's really driven you to follow your passion?


Sure. Well, number one, mine the relationships. I mean, you know, I spent probably the first 15 years of my career really laser focused on understanding the business I was doing and the, the, the tools that were at my disposal and the processes and making sure I had that down pat. And I knew it better than most of the people that I was working with. Um, so I could figure out how to shave time off or, you know, uh, manipulate things to, to break down bureaucracy that didn't serve, you know, whoever my customer or my, my audience was mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but I didn't spend enough time on relationships and, and it came out in the results. I mean, I might have been able to, um, complete some really large initiatives early on, but they <laugh> they would say, well, you left a wake of dead bodies in your path, you know, and it's like,


You got it done, but man,


But I got it done. And they're like, we don't care. Go away <laugh>. You know? Um, I mean, you know, we're reorging and I guess you're out. Yeah. Uh, so, you know, sometimes when reorg happens or you get downsized or whatever, there's good reason why you were picked and not the person next to you. Yeah. But, you know, some harsh lessons that I had to learn and I, um, was hellbent on fixing that when I went back the last time for my last tour of duty in corporate America. Cuz I had to conquer that, that issue. And with that, I saw other people, you know, especially when you're younger, you're coming up and, and you don't mind the relationships. You get your technical prowess going and you, uh, learn the politics, but that's different than the relationships you need to cultivate to, to get people to follow you and, um, give you the support you need. So, I mean, really it's just that, I'd say that's the number one thing mm-hmm. <affirmative> is, is the people and minding those relationships, getting to know the people that are crucial to you, getting from where you're at to where you need to go. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um,


Excuse me. I think, I think it's really important. And so two things I'll mention, uh, kind of playing off that, you know, I tell our kids, you know, when they were, you know, younger, like, what am I gonna do when I grow up kind of thing. And I said, you know, if you have a job that all the things you do, all the functions you have to perform you love, they're all in your, they're in your sweet spot, they're your jam. You love 'em. Like, oh, I get to do this, I get to do that. But the people you have to deal with on a regular basis are paying your butt. Yeah. You will hate that freaking job. That's right. You will hate that job if you have a job where the functions you have to perform are like, eh, but you love the people, you will freaking love that job.


Yeah. And it plays right into what you're saying so, so stink and important and the relationships, like you're talking about, especially in the corporate world of, you know, being able to have, as you typically in a corporate world, right. At least on the financial side where I was, you know, as you progress through your career, you end up managing a team and team gets bigger and bigger and bigger. If you can't, if your EQ sucks, your career's gonna be short. Yeah. Because you're gonna get a team and you're gonna get a team of, let's say 10 people and six of them are complain about you. Right Now, you're no longer a manager, <laugh>. That's right. And now you gotta find your niche and how to do that, you know, elsewhere, if you're an IT and you're doing project management, you gotta reach across all sorts of aisles to try to, you know, coordinate and all that stuff and Right. You know, like you said, if you're leaving dead bodies


Well, and people don't wanna help you when you're a jerk. Right. You know? Yeah. Um, you can, you can, you know, take the approach of beat 'em over the head style, which frankly, earlier in my career, I think that was my approach. I'm very direct. I'm like, just here's what I need, here's what I need it. And um, so I refined that, uh, substantially. Yeah. Substantially after many reviews where I was told maybe you're a little too direct <laugh>, um, you know, could you just soften it? Um, so, you know, it, it's a fine balance. You do have to be, uh, direct enough that people know what, um, what you want from them, but you also have to, to, uh, show that you care about them and, um, give them credit. Um, appreciate them, acknowledge what their contributions are, and people are more likely to respond to someone that they feel recognizes them and cares about them. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know? Yeah.


Yeah. Yeah. I think that's, that's an important distinction to make because, and again, we're like, we've, I've said it several times already, it crosses all sorts of different barriers. All your relationships go along this way. We're running outta time here, but I did want to at least start, start to scratch the surface on what's it look like now when you work with someone. So if you're someone came to you and said, Hey, there, I need help with a relationship. Yeah. You know, what's, what's a coaching relationship, for example, look like?


Um, so I do coaching with co-parents right now. Um, and then on a broader scale, um, I wouldn't call it coaching, but I do speaking events. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and in the books even the provide how to sort of guidance to people. And I really, uh, put an emphasis on making sure you're focusing on what's important. Because when you come, you know, when you encounter, uh, conflict with others, we tend to shrink away from that. And we start to focus on what we don't like about what's going on with this or with that person, what we don't like about them. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, we don't wanna spend time with them. And so I encourage people to first get their perspective straight. What is it that you want to have continue happening? Do you want to continue the conflict? No. Then let's not focus on that. Let's focus on what it is you want to achieve. And also why is this relationship important to maintain, even if you don't like them, there may be people in your life that, um, you rely on for one reason or another. Yeah.


Well, and I think it's super important, especially on the co-parenting side because you know, as you mentioned, you may have a difficult relationship with your former spouse or what have you, but we got kids involved and the kids end up being negatively impacted and no one wants their kids negative impacted. Right? Yeah. They want the impact to be as, as positive as it can be. So we're gonna hit a break here, guys. We'll come back talking with there. Harlow,


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All right guys, welcome back to the show. Uh, again, we're talking with there. Harley can find out more at teresaharlow.com. Definitely go by her book "Combative to Collaborative". And, uh, she did tell me, I'm, I'm gonna let a little secret out here, just a little bit of a secret. She's got another book in the works. Um, so keep an eye out for that <laugh>. That's right. Um, so I know you had mentioned, so I wanna make sure we, we can give the viewers some listeners, some, some tips on, you know, dealing with that difficult person, whether it's a co-parent, whether it's a coworker, it's your spouse, it's your <laugh>, your brother, your sister, whoever it might be. You had mentioned before, uh, before last, focusing on what's important, right. What are some other things that we can do that are practical things to really sort of soften that?


Yeah. Well, you know, once you've got your head on straight and you're, you are focused on the right thing, then you know there's gonna be interaction. And, uh, one thing I warn people about is beware of knee jerk reactions to things. Um, you know, if you're in a business situation or even in personal, it could be email or it could be a voice. Oh, yeah. Um, you know, voicemail that you receive from someone and your first instinct is to how dare they do that? Yeah, I'm gonna give it right back to 'em. Right? Yeah. Um, but you know, when you do that, there's a couple risks involved. One, what's the risk to losing that relationship entirely? Even if you're like, well, I don't care cause I don't like 'em. It's like, but what do you rely on them for in your life? How do they make your life easier or, you know, uh, contribute to where you want to go? Um, but when we have knee jerk reactions, and especially if we document them, like in a, in a actual written response or leaving a voice message, you're literally memorializing Right. Potentially, um, bad behavior of your own. And that's the last thing you wanna do. Because while you may, uh, just be able to go to for tat with somebody like that, they may not be willing to do that, and they may use it as a weapon against you.


And, and they, I mean, I think it's generally accepted that people remember most how you make them feel.


That's Right. So your, your example, if I'm mad at you and I call you and leave you a nasty voicemail the next day, I forgot about the voicemail. Yeah. You're still upset about it or steaming or, you know, sad or whatever, and I'm, I've already moved on and you're That's right. We


Got it off your chest and now it's on my chest.


Yeah. When we interact, now you're coming from a different space than I am, which is not gonna help that relationship going


Forward. Right. And, you know, so with that then, what do you do instead? Well, I always say, look, and these are tricks that I use for myself, rather than do that whole, like, Hey, I'm just gonna respond and hit send and it's over. I usually, if I'm really fired up about something, I'll hit forward. I'll address an email to myself, write exactly what I wanna say, get it out of, get it off my chest Yeah. And get it out there, and then let it sit, uh, maybe send it to myself, read it as the receiver, and then feel the impact of what it is I'm, I'm putting out there mm-hmm. <affirmative> and go, okay, if I were on the receiving end of an email like this, how would I feel? Would I feel good? Would I feel angry? And then reassess and then revise and revise and revise. And if you have the luxury of waiting a day, if it's a really, you know, moderately or, or really high conflict scenario, wait a day mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, if you can, um, but walk away from it.


I've done the email thing where I've been ticked off. I type an email, I did exactly what you said, and then the next morning I read it and I'm like, Ooh.


Right. Ooh,


Holy Crap. Like, ooh, man, I was really in a nasty mood. Like, oh, let me take that whole paragraph out. That's not good at all. You know,


<laugh>. Right. I mean, and even if you don't like the person who's receiving that, you have to honor that because you're gonna get back what you put out. It's karma. Yeah. Sorry. That's, that's how it works.


Yeah, for sure.


So, um, and in addition to, you know, getting past these knee jerk reactions and avoiding those, here's something that sounds counterintuitive and it actually took my four step process to five steps just recently, and it's more communication with those who you find difficult, not less. Okay. Give you an analogy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So let's say you are, have you ever played like, um, co-rec sports? Oh, that sort. Yeah. So it's some I'm not very good at at team sports. Um, and I got drawn into doing, uh, recreation co-req softball, and they're like, have you ever played? I'm like, no. They're like, right field <laugh>. I'm like, okay. So I'm in right field and I'm like, you know, every game I'd get like one to three opportunities. If there were a lot of lefthanders, there were three. If there weren't to, if there were more typical, I'd get one opportunity, I'm never gonna improve. Right. Because I'm getting one opportunity per game. Yeah. So if you have a difficult, um, relationship with someone, or just challenging communication, you're not quite thinking, um, communicate with them more, not less, find opportunities to interact with them. And, and I have tons of examples where I just, you know, maybe met someone for a cocktail or coffee or lunch or whatever to, um, really build that rapport that can then build the bridge to a, a, a better relationship with them. And it's amazing how some of that animosity can just kind of, uh, melt away.


It's interesting. Yeah. It is kind of counterintuitive, but as you're explaining it, I mean, it makes all the sense in the world because you're, you're adding some chips to the barrel. Yeah. Right. You know, so that person now, the percentage of their interactions with you, even if some of 'em are contentious, if you only talk to 'em when they're contentious, a hundred percent are bad. Yeah. Whereas you have some of those positives and they go, ah, you know, when you do have a contentious situation, they go, well, she's not that bad,


You know? Well, and, and here's another thing too, is a lot of people will, will insert like technology in between them and someone, they wanna build a barrier, like to protect themself. I get it. But, um, just remember, technology provides a layer that, you know, you can't be sure of how the other person is receiving. Yeah. How, what intonation they're, they're applying to your words. And, um, so I was recently asked to give a techno technology solution for co-parents what was my go-to? And I said, frankly, um, while technology has a place I prefer for the co-parents to talk to each other, and I would say the same thing holds in business relationships. Um, while it may not always work out, um, if you can start with an assumption that you're going to give that a try, it's gonna serve you. Yeah.


I think, yeah, to your point, technology, especially in a co-parenting situation is I feel like too often it probably becomes a documentation. Yeah. It's not to, it's, it's like, Ooh, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna say this and you know, I'm gonna look good. Building a case. Yeah,


Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Rather than what it's really intended to do. Yeah. Which is provide, um, some safety and, and, um, maybe some guidance on communication that's more productive. So when it's used that way, it can be helpful. Um, but I think to your point, unfortunately, it's used a lot more as again, a weapon Yeah. Which doesn't get anybody, either the person doing it or the other party any further along. You're just focusing on the conflict again.


Right. Not on what's important,


What you said earlier. Right. Um, besides those, those things then, um, remembering to apply empathy, you're, uh, thought there about, you know, reading and email and then feeling it mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and how it made you feel. You're empathizing right there. You're saying, how would it make me feel? What words do I wanna hear said to me or read, you know, be coming at me? Um, and acknowledging and appreciating the person as you start a conversation with them can, it doesn't mean you have to agree with them on whatever, but just starting with, uh, I appreciate you taking time to have this conversation mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, or I can understand why you find what I'm trying to do confusing. Yeah. You know, or whatever. Yeah. Um, and then, you know, I have a, I have a, um, a single rule that I live by, which is the golden rule. Treat others the way you wanna be treated, not how you feel. They deserve to be true. Right.


Super important. Well, there, thank you so much for coming on the show. teresaharlow.com follow on social media as well. Thanks a lot, Teresa.


Thank you . Thanks for having me.


Yeah. Thanks for listening guys. Thanks for watching. Have a great, and don't forget, as always, cash flow is king


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