The War Room Strategy
When people realize that Fourth Ambit has four co-founders and that all four of us were batch-mates from our engineering days, I am often asked what the secret to our relationship is? How do we manage to get along well all these years? Do we fight? Given that there are such strong personalities involved, how do we handle conflict resolution?
Our CEO has a “war room” strategy to address this issue. During this session, we take turns to voice out our concerns . It could be a perceived personal slight or a strong difference of opinion on strategy. When one talks, all the other 3 do not interrupt. They just LISTEN.
And that is the MOST important ingredient in effective communication. Listening.
First of all, understand that “Hearing” and “Listening” are two very different activities. Hearing is a sensory function. It is super critical that you understand the difference. Hearing is picking up the airways and trying to respond when your Professor has disrupted your “hangman” sessions with your friend, while the class is on. It is what my husband does when I disrupt his computer games and accuse him of not listening to me.
When we are in the “War room” mode, we actively listen. We take notes. The person who speaks has our undivided attention. We try and understand the person’s thought process. We recognize the feelings behind the statement.
While this “ingredient” is not a secret, most of us suck at it.
What are some of the things we need to do, to get better at listening?
When I come to you with an issue , which could be personal or professional, and in between the conversation , you are checking your facebook updates, what does that communicate? The fact that you have been “Hearing” my words, mean crap to me.
And if you don’t like this being done to you, don’t do the same to others. Because trust me, we all do this to some degree or the other.
Another one of my pet peeves — people attending calls that come in during the conversation.
If you have given me time for the meeting,then it is highly disrespectful to me and my time. Having said that I have seen some of my clients handle this most elegantly. If they are expecting a very critical call they cannot avoid, they will give a heads up even before we sit for the meeting.
I have friends and family who do this all the time. Why? Is the person on the phone more important than me? Then I could have just called you? Why am I visiting you?
- Don’t do an “Arnab Goswami” on them
This is a critical mistake I make. Especially with clients. I am so eager to share a solution for the problem faced by the client, that I end up responding even before they have completed their statement.
When I do this, my fellow co-founder Shyam tells me, “ You are doing an Arnab again” — It has made me so conscious that I really work hard on this flaw.
- Use your eyes in the conversation
I can easily tell when the person in front of me has wandered away. It’s all in the eyes. So maintaining eye contact is one thing but if you are going to sleep off with eyes open , you may want to check that habit
- Imitate their Body language
This apparently conveys understanding. It builds a rapport and makes them comfortable, which in turn makes the communication better.
- The listening “noises”
While it is not cool to interrupt, you should show that you are listening with those well placed “Oh..”, “Mmmm” , “ok..”, is it!” noises.
- Listening without judgement
When you listen, clear you mind and just focus on the person talking to you. Don’t judge them before you have heard them out. Because, unknown to us, our body language changes when we have judged the other person in a negative light. And the other person can read you. And that kills a conversation.
If you have ever been in a business negotiation, you will see that the good negotiator, always listens more. Listening is a critical skill for any business person. Do you know any business leader who is popular and not a good listener?
In your personal relationships too, listening well goes a long way to making life good. At the end of the day, that is all that matters, right?
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Friends, this is the Day 11 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog”
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