The primary block to us having necessary conversations at work is technology. While technology is a wonderful servant, in many instances it has become our master. Rather than walking down the hall to have a “belly to belly” conversation with a member of our team, we fire off an email. Rather than making the time to have a lunch with a valued customer, we leave a voicemail to save time. All this reliance on technology severs our human connections which are the primary driver of business growth. People love doing business with people who care about them. People love doing business with people they trust. People love doing business with people who they feel an emotional bond with. Without regular and sustained conversations, no such bond can exist.
Here are five practices that will help you keep engaging in conversations and, as a result, continue to experience higher levels of success:
- Make time for “human moments”. One of the main reasons that people are no longer motivated and loyal at work is because they do not feel that they are part of a community. Human moments are infrequent. To increase the human moments in your workplace, carve out the time to personally meet with people and connect with them at a level beyond the superficial. Speak to people’s interests. Open your heart and truly listen to them. Ask them about their family, their passions and their hopes. Show them that you are truly there for them and they will respond with greater energy, empathy and commitment to you.
- Increase your conversations by making sure that you “circulate”. Circulating simply means that you make it a priority, as much as possible, to take your clients out to lunch or to breakfast. Whenever possible, visit your customers’ place of work to get a feel for their environment and the energy of their workplace. Make the time to “show up fully” and to be there for people at a very human level.
- Extend conversations by creating a rich community. Keep thinking about building your community and taking care of it. This might involve sending members a valuable article or book, or making calls to members of your community when you are stuck in an airport and have nothing to do.
- Conversations at home are even more important than your business conversations. Having a fulfilling home life serves as a platform to fuel your business success. If you lose the conversation with your partner, you will lose the relationship. If you lose the conversation with your children, you will lose the connection with them. In other words, if you stop having deep communication with your family, you will ultimately lose your family. Make the time to talk openly with members of your family on a daily basis.
- Don’t forget the “inner conversation”. I have discovered that the more I make time for self-conversations, the more thoughtful, innovative, effective and happy I am. On almost a daily basis, I journal. Journaling is nothing more than a conversation that I have with myself. I reflect on how I am working and how I am living. I reflect on the insights I have learned through my day and the course corrections I must make to improve. I reflect on the lessons I am learning, on the people I am meeting and the thoughts I am thinking. Only humans have the capacity to step out of their thinking and evaluate their thoughts. We can actually study our thinking and witness our thoughts. The more we witness our thoughts, the more we can disengage from our thinking if it does not serve us.
So as you become the person and the leader you want to be, keep increasing your conversations. Keep talking to the people you work with. Keep talking to your customers. And keep engaging in the most important conversation of all: the conversation with self.