The exquisite art of being present-MJPE #8

Quality performance feedback

Strip #8:  “You gave me your full attention in our meetings; I appreciated the feeling of being heard.”

Okay, confession time.  This can be SO hard for me.  My brain loves field trips, and heads off on it’s own at the drop of a hat.  Virtual meetings are the worst, especially if there is anything in it that is a weekly recurring topic.  My brain takes one look at the agenda and goes “Right…boring.  Later.”  Off it goes to play among the email and IM apps, while simultaneously tripling the amount of open browser tabs I’ve got going.

In-person meetings tend to keep us more honest, but it’s still all too easy to be somewhere else.  You can’t let it happen there, and you absolutely cannot let it happen one-on-one.  Yes, I know there are a few people out there who are completely oblivious to your inattention.  You almost certainly have some working for you, they are almost certainly in the minority, and you’ve almost certainly misidentified them.  Don’t risk it.

Besides, this is another one of those things where people seem to have really good radar no matter how good an actor you think you are.  They may not be able to pin down exactly why talking to you isn’t a positive experience, but don’t be fooled.  In their daily subconscious mental calculus, their brains will tend to progressively diminish the value of bringing things to you.

This is an easily avoided death-spiral that will choke off the vital supply of what I’ve come to think of as “lagniappe” communication.  A lagniappe is a term, mostly associated with Louisiana in the U.S., that refers to a little extra given beyond what is owed in a business transaction.  I’ve never met a successful leader who wasn’t bringing in loads of this daily, and who wasn’t working extremely hard to protect it.

Bottom line: People always notice, at one level or another, when you are not engaged in listening.  You’re not fooling them.  Don’t fool yourself.

-These quotes are from a jar that my team presented me as I was leaving to accept a promotion.  They are the impressions, thoughts, and ideas that they had come to associate with me during my time there.  I’ve decided to share them, and what I remember of how they came to be, with my readers as I draw them at random-

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