It’s easy to get stuck in a particular mindset.

And when we’re stuck, it affects all of our interpersonal relationships, including how we engage with others in the workplace.

A long time ago, I worked for a woman who had a challenging personality, to say the least. She viewed dissent (no matter how carefully worded) as disrespect, and reacted to disrespect with a blend of combativeness and passive aggression.

As you can imagine, I never wanted to meet with her to discuss new ideas.

Yet, there came a day when I had no choice. I’d come up with an idea that had incredible potential for our organization, and the only way to move it forward was to gain her approval. First, I got mad and annoyed that I had to deal with her. Then I got worried that I would somehow mess things up, she would shut down, and the idea would get buried.

I sat with these feelings, trying to create a strategy that would work. Nothing seemed to gel until I realized why I was stuck.

The problem was my mindset. I couldn’t come up with anything that made sense until I reframed how I thought about her. If I saw her as the enemy, I would never be able to present my idea effectively.

So, what did I do? I went back to the basics. I thought about what she and I had in common. For example, both of us cared about the organization and wanted what was best for it. Both of us wanted to make the best choices for the people we served through our organization.  Far from being the enemy, she was an ally; I just needed to find the best way to gain her allegiance to my idea.

I entered that meeting with the mindset that we both wanted the same things, even if it didn’t always feel that way, or if we saw different ways to accomplish them. As I spoke, I engaged with her as a kindred spirit and invited her into my excitement about the idea. I made her feel a part of it. And guess what? By the end of the meeting, not only was she on board, she hugged me and thanked me for my proactivity.

By reframing my mindset before the meeting, I was able to respond to the questions of my ally rather than react to an inquisition from my enemy. I never wavered from the belief that we were in this thing together. And in the end, that made all the difference.

Want to learn more about how to reframe your mindset? Read all about it here.

Image Credit: Greg Rakozy