Restoring Community

Screen Shot 2017 07 25 at 12.58.27 PMOver the course of my life, I have been blessed with many excellent teachers and learning experiences. My marriage tops them all. Here are just a few things I’ve learned that have also impacted my relationships at work.

Real commitments are 100/100 not 50/50

There are some things in life that can be accomplished with halfhearted commitments. But the big things, those life and career-defining things, usually require total commitment. In fact, my experience is that those who stay more fully committed to an idea longer are the ones who will see their vision become reality.

The most important things in life require you to be all-in.

As in marriage, professional success is rarely about magical personality combinations free from friction and strife. Long-term success is usually found among those teams that make the tough decision to gut it out no matter what. This requires hard work and resilience. These teams learn to maximize strengths, minimize the impact of weaknesses and tolerate the annoying things.

A humble workplace team that is all-in and knows how to put up with one another will always outperform a team of half-committed prima donnas and superstars.

Being compassionate is as important as being right

Ah, yes. Herein we enter my relational Waterloo…

In relationships, how we treat each other will determine much more than the content and quality of our arguments. You can be absolutely right intellectually and absolutely wrong interpersonally. It’s not enough to reach the right conclusion. The conclusion must be arrived at and communicated in such a way that others feel respected and valued if you hope to have any real and lasting influence.

A little training in collaborative and emotionally intelligent decision-making skills goes a long way…

And sometimes you just need to be flexible and willing to bend. There will come a time when others will do this for you.

Clean up after yourself

No matter how much someone loves you, they really don’t like handling your dirty socks or smelly workout clothes. And try to leave each room in the house in the condition you found it – or better.

At work, don’t leave interpersonal clutter and disorder in your wake. If think you rubbed someone the wrong way, be the first to approach them and raise the issue. A tool like the “restorative questions” can be very helpful. If you talked too much at the last meeting, admit it and make a public commitment to become a better listener.

Try not to go to bed angry with your spouse. And try not to go home angry at a colleague.

Staying ten minutes late to hash out a conflict might save you an hour or two of sleep.

And it might not be in your job description, but sometimes take out the garbage or clean the microwave.

Seriously, clean that microwave. It’s kinda gross…


John W. Bailie, Ph.D., is President of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP). He is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences on education reform and civil society development. He has initiated major research projects on restorative practices in education and frequently publishes on topics related to leadership, social innovation and education. Read a Message from the President.