Tag: relationship

Who might you invite to coffee?

Building relationships is part of the job
With today’s hurry-up pace, it seems we’ve simply lost the notion of slowing down and taking time to be interested in other people. Front porches have been replaced with fenced-in backyards. Company softball teams have disappeared. Events designed to get employees together after work no longer hold the same interest. We’ve lost track of what is happening in other people’s lives. We eat at our desks, and there doesn’t seem to be time to go out for coffee.
Let’s make time. There is something about the invitation to have coffee that carries a genuine interest in the other person, in connecting. Sure, Facebook and LinkedIn are designed for keeping in touch with the people in your personal and work lives to some extent. But nothing beats face-to-face conversations for developing a sense of connection and understanding. And those connections forged over coffee, tea, or lunch can provide value beyond getting to know one another better—they affect your ability to get things done in the organization.

During a leadership seminar, Ashlee shared a couple of her favorite insights about being in a leadership role. I loved this one, which she called: “With whom do I need to have a cup of coffee?”
As we were in the beginning of a new product launch, Mary Pat and I were feeling the pressure: a lot to do, and a short time to do it. It was chaotic. During a rough moment, Mary Pat said, “I am failing. I feel as if I am failing.” 
“Why?” I asked her. “All launches are chaos, and we just need to get through it.”
She then said to me, “When Dave had this job, it wasn’t this chaotic. He would be having a cup of coffee with someone now instead of being out here on the factory floor.” 
I looked at her as if she were nuts and asked how a cup of coffee would make things less chaotic. She said, “Dave knew when and with whom he needed to be building relationships to avoid the chaos and indecision.” 
Her statement has stuck with me for years. I now evaluate situations and question where a cup of coffee could solve my problem, or at a minimum make it less painful.
For many reasons, projects stop moving or commitments are not kept. If you have a relationship in place with the folks involved, discussing the problem is much easier. It’s tough to bring up an issue with someone you don’t know. Over coffee might just be the best way to have difficult conversations.
There is something about disengaging from the hectic pace of work and life—stepping away, slowing down—that creates an environment of calm and safety and permission. It allows for conversations about things that matter. And I’m not talking about a huge time investment here. Thirty minutes, once a week, and you could make new connections or deepen your relationship with fifty colleagues in a year’s time.
Take Ashlee’s advice and begin your day by thinking of someone you might invite to coffee.

Excerpted from Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations by Paul Axtell.

Are You Respectful in Your Interactions?

Kent Nerburn, in Letters to My Son, said that you need two things for a relationship to endure: You need the ability to laugh together. And you need to respect how your partner deals with the rest of the world.
I love this because it reminds us to be lighter and more accepting of invitations to enjoy life and the people around us. Nerburn is also pointing out that how we interact with the world matters. People notice how we treat others and the world in general.
Friends, family, and colleagues, in particular, notice when we do not meet their expectations for interacting with others. And just as important, if we act in ways that are consistent with our own values, standards, and beliefs for being in the world, we will be happier.
Here are some traits to reflect upon. Then take a minute to ask yourself the questions. It will give you a great idea of your current mindset, and how you interact with the rest of the world.

Treating people respectfully regardless of their position or relationship (Are you gracious?)
Being ethical (Are your standards high and consistent?)
Being loyal to those not present (Do you undermine or gossip about others?)
Choosing to engage in conversations that add value (Are your conversations worth having?)
Choosing language that expresses respect (Are you civil, courteous?)
Keeping the confidences of others (Are you discreet and mindful about what others share with you?)
Being open (Are you easy to talk to and willing to consider new ideas, questions, and views?)
Being responsive (Do you get back to people quickly when they leave messages or invitations for you?)
Being aware of others (Do you notice people who are not included or participating?)
Using simple courtesies (Do you say please, thank you?)
Respecting other people’s time (Do you ask if this is a good time to talk or avoid making unnecessary requests?)
Giving your word and keeping it (Do you follow through on your commitments?)

The good news? If you’re not happy with your answers, 2015 is just around the corner. In fact, I can’t think of a better time than the New Year to hit the reset button, to begin anew.
So whether you’re catching up with a childhood friend during the holidays or simply passing someone on the sidewalk, remind yourself of the traits above. Be conscious of thoughts, and your actions.
Dave Barry said it simply: “A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.”

Go Ahead, Make Someone’s Day!

I am always honored when someone stops and takes the time to be interested in what matters to me—my work, my kids, my golf game. These conversations appear as a sharp contrast to other going-through-the-motions types of inquiries that lately seem to be the cultural norm—like asking “How are you doing?” while passing someone in the hall without waiting to hear the answer.
If you consider that relationships are defined through the pattern of conversations you have, checking in with people is an important one to have in the pattern. I encourage you to explore this notion of ‘checking in’ with people in a couple of ways.
First, when you run into people you haven’t seen for a while, take a few minutes to check in with them. Be deliberate about finding out how they are doing and catching up with what is happening in their lives. You will need to be intentional when you ask the first question because the tendency for most people is to answer quickly with “Fine.” Instead, try, “If you’ve got a minute, I’d love for you to tell me about how you are doing. What’s going on in your life?”
Also, when someone checks in with you, take advantage of the invitation and give a thoughtful response that will add to the relationship and your experience of the conversation.
Second, consider checking in with people a valuable process step in the issue-related conversations you have at work. That is, begin by asking people what their thinking is on the issue, and then stay with the conversation until you are clear about where they stand.
Why check in with people?

People want to be noticed, included, and connected. If you are interested in engagement, it takes conversations.
The level of work we can get done in a meeting is influenced by the degree of relationship and connection that walks into the meeting.

So make it a point to check in with at least one person a day, and over time begin to notice what happens. Not only will your relationships deepen, but your interest and sincere listening will make someone’s day!