I believe that most people, through their work and personal lives, want to contribute to the growth and self-actualization of others. Now is the time to make it your first AND second priority. It makes a difference, something of which I was recently reminded.
I was about to initiate a coaching session with a CEO recently and heeding my own advice to make it personal now, I asked my client how he and his family were and how they were coping with COVID. My intention was to show him my desire to know him and his family, THEN his business. He lit up and thanked me even before sharing with me that he’d just come from his family physician where his daughter was diagnosed with strep throat but thankfully not COVID.
From then on, I’ve made my conversations during these times personal, then business.
Use Empathy to Check-In
Knowing how a client, teammate, direct report, or even superior is doing is paramount now. Whether they respond or not, you’ve credentialed yourself as someone who understands the mental strain the virus has cast upon us all. You show people you care and have time for them. This is critical now that the interpersonal chemistry of in-person meetings has been stripped away from us. Replace it with your desire to empathetically check-in. The more you do this, the more others will. “How are you and your family doing during these times?” works to cleanse the commercial conversation you’re about to have. You also get a heads up on the person’s level of engagement, which will help you guide your business conversation.
People Want to Be Heard
As I learned by talking to my client about his family, people want to share things that are on their minds. That’s true in their business dealing, too. When conducting a meeting, encourage an atmosphere of open debate and demonstrate the patience for an argument. Let people share their insights. It makes people feel alive and vital. It says to direct reports and peers that no one person has the definitive answer. You are forging an inquiry that gets everyone talking, that’s the beauty of it. By the time the debate winds down, everyone has been heard and everyone has been a part of the resolution. You’ve also illustrated your concern and commitment to understanding everyone’s side.
Essentially, you’ve honored everyone in this process. You’ve shown you can learn from people. That’s being a strong leader!