A mentor once told me of an uncle whose “byline” – for lack of a better term – was, “your name is safe in my house.” What he meant is that you wouldn’t have to worry about him or others in his presence speaking ill of you. People took the uncle at his word, too,  because he was never heard speaking poorly of others.

Successful Professionals Understand the Importance of Relationships

None of us knows it all – as much as some among us might like to act (or even think) we do – but the best solution delivery professionals know how to find what they need when they need it. They rely on trust-based relationships with those “in the know” to gather the information needed to help businesses define and solve problems. Building and maintaining these relationships depends largely on personal professionalism, including character attributes such as honesty, trustworthiness and consistency. Basically, you have to have integrity.

Don’t take the bait!

Delivering successful business solutions is a team sport with all kinds of players; each with their own opinions on what needs to be done, how we need to go about it, and whose fault the whole problem was in the first place.

Analysts and project managers, especially, have a lot of opportunities during the course of their work spanning groups to hear the business’s complaints about IT, and vice versa, or one individual’s complaints about another. In some cases, you may feel inclined to join in, either because you agree, or because the other party (or parties) seems to want you to validate their sentiments.

The simple counsel here, is – don’t take the bait! When opportunities arise to participate in conversations that focus on the weaknesses and shortcomings of others in a way that is not constructive, either try to steer the conversation down a more constructive path, or don’t participate. The cross-organizational nature of our roles also us an opportunity to help teams jell and reach their potential. We have the opportunity to build bridges and clear obstacles between individuals, groups and organizations. As a side benefit, steering clear of the gossip gutter will also help avoid the risk of burning bridges or committing a careless but costly “CLM” (Career Limiting Move).

It’s been said that trust is hard to win and easy to lose, and, once lost, it is even more difficult – if not impossible – to win back. And face it, people know that if you don’t mind gossiping to them, then you won’t mind gossiping about them either. The ability to build and nurture trusting relationships is critical success not just as a professional, but as an individual on the whole, and it’s much easier to earn and keep that trust when our associates know that their names are safe in our presence.