We are all a part of a multiple organizational cultures in our lives. Family, work, church, school systems, volunteer organizations, and hobby clubs. No doubt all of us have experienced the problems that come from unhealthy cultures. They are marked by things such as secret keeping, refusal to set or adhere to boundaries, triangulation (gossip), and a clear hierarchy of power/control.
In working with lots of people in many different organizations (as well as starting several of my own organizations), I’ve found that there are three things that healthy cultures do really well.
1. They identify the real issues with help from someone from the outside.
2. They confront and discuss with honesty the real issues, not shying away from the difficult truths. They tell the truth, usually involving conflict.
3. They develop solutions and process that are inclusive, not exclusive. The quickest way to poison a culture is to make it exclusionary.
It’s easy for a culture to become a cult when none of the three things above take place.
I often get the question, “what can I do to change my relationship with wife/friend/co-worker?” (This usually means – “how can I change the other person?”)
The answer to the first question is really simple: Just take one step.
One small act of kindness.
One gift of a compliment.
One of their favorite candy bars given with a small note of gratitude.
One sacrifice or service.
One blessing in spite of whatever happened.
One step of forgiveness.
One apology with follow through.
Now, this doesn’t mean that things will turn around immediately, but if you take that one small step every day (yes! every day), and do it faithfully, the relationship will change.
And so will you.