Photo: Pixabay

Well, we didn’t see this coming.

I’m a creature of habit. And although I don’t always stick to it, I love my routine. Especially when it comes to my job.

I have a great office at home. Lots of windows, pretty view, and a 75-pound Goldendoodle, Charlie, at my feet. My husband also shares the same office. He travels quite a bit, but we’re able to share amicably without too much complaining about each other’s mess. Well, cue COVID-19. Not a big deal, just an inconvenience; we can make this work for a day or two. And our daughters are with us. How fun! WRONG!

What I didn’t mention, is my husband’s idea for the office is something out of Star Trek. Multiple monitors, phones, wires everywhere, and empty espresso cups. So, I guess I’m re-locating my operation. I’m closer to the laundry room – how lucky am I?

Couples around the world right now are experiencing the same thing. How can we survive this stressful, unknown amount of time this work without causing any bodily harm?

Barbara DiLisio and husband Mark Crowell are founders of Wicky Design, a Philadelphia based strategic branding and web design team, serving small business owners and entrepreneurs. They don’t share a typical office. They’re digital nomads, traveling the world and working from various locations. Currently, they’re driving home from Las Vegas as a precaution against the virus. When it comes to communicating with Mark, Barbara had a few thoughts:

“The biggest struggle we have had working together is learning the different styles in which we work. I am very much the type of person that likes to do one thing at a time and won’t stop until I am finished. Mark can work on 5 different things at once. It can still drive me nuts, especially if I am waiting for something to be done, but I have learned to accept that he is not going to change and either am I. We used to yell at each other about this constantly! Learning about our different personalities had helped us learn to communicate with each other SO much better.”

For those of you who don’t know, my business focuses primarily on Communication & Conflict Resolution. I work closely with CEO’s, Leaders, and Managers help create strategies that improve communication across their organizations and with their clients & customers.  It always begins with the question, what’s your Communication Style? How you prefer to communicate and be communicated with often differs from your boss, colleague, client and spouse. The result? Conflict.

I’m a crazy outgoing person. I’m chatty. My fuel comes from interacting with people – preferably in person. My husband on the other hand, is reserved and focuses on what needs to be done, rather than who’s involved. The silver lining in our current situation is that we KNOW each other’s styles, and we UNDERSTAND what to say and how to say it without causing additional stress.

When working with someone next to you in the office or in the next room, the more you understand how they operate, the easier it becomes to adapt your style.

A good place to start is your compatibility. A tool I use is the 3 C’s of Compatibility: 

  1.  Strengths: Identify what’s working well in your current relationship
    • You and your spouse complement each other
  2.  Struggles: Discover current and potential areas of conflict
    • Having a problem communicating your concerns or feelings
  3.  Strategies: Create actionable strategies to apply right away
    • Create boundaries
    • Develop a routine

As I said in the beginning, we didn’t see this coming. However, we can stay in denial mode, or view this time as an opportunity for growth, both individually and as a couple. It all comes down to this: A success collaboration is only successful if both parties have a mutual respect, an understanding of each other’s work styles and maybe an extra bottle or two of wine.