How many times have you been in a professional conversation when you’ve realised that the other person is no longer ‘with you’?
It is most obvious when there is a physical interruption like a knock at the door, a phone call or message ping that takes the focus away from the conversation. Sometimes it’s not so obvious. You may hear a keyboard or mouse clicking when you’re on the phone. You may feel that the other person is just not fully there though the signals may be more subtle.
How did you feel when you realised this? Irritated, angry, dismissed, inferior or worthless? How could you achieve more with conversations?
Presence and Attention
As a leader, your presence and attention, or the lack of it, can have a massive impact. Do you want the people you have conversations with to feel like you were not paying full attention to them and their topic?
One of the worst days in my career was when I went to talk to my boss about a principle, I felt was being wilfully overturned by a senior leader. A leader who was publicly espousing the benefits of that very principle. The effect of overturning the principle was a negative impact on the effectiveness of the work and costs of my boss’s department and the company.
It took me less than two minutes to realise my boss wasn’t engaging, no eye contact, no verbal responses, no acknowledgement of the issue. His next words confirmed it, “Have you seen the ‘totally irrelevant‘ spreadsheet?”
That was the day I started my mental walk away from the company.
There may have been incredibly good reasons for their reaction or lack of it. They may not have known how to handle it or may not have wished to rock the boat with the senior leader. The choice they did have though was whether to engage with the person in front of them. The engagement may only have been to acknowledge that it was a problem and that there wasn’t much that could be done.
Difficult conversations should not be avoided as a leader. The effect of not being present when things are tough, or boring, is felt by the other person. Do you really want them to think you don’t have time for them or their issue?
If the conversation is unplanned and you cannot give your full attention to it right then, let the other person know. Plan a time to have a conversation later. The other person will have a much better feeling when discussions reconvene. You will achieve more with conversations where you are present and can pay full attention.
Building on Successful Conversations
Achieving more with conversations is a double whammy in the Three Pillars of Stress-Free Success model. It strengthens your leadership and delivers on your personal effectiveness.
A coaching style of leadership helps get the best out of your team. A conversation with a coach demonstrates how to be fully present and pay attention. Experience the power of a coaching conversation and examine how this helps you by booking a free exploratory chat as a prelude to a possible coaching programme. See how to achieve more with conversations in action.