Is this you? To honestly answer this question requires self awareness, which many people lack. We all know that person, the one you meet in a business or personal setting who cannot stop themselves from dominating a conversation or room. At the end of the conversation they think it went well while you hope not to run into them again.
When that type of conversation is over, you know too much about them (most people like to talk about themselves). At the same time they didn’t let you speak enough to learn about you to have anything substantive to remember. They may not even remember your name
I recently revisited an article about annoying personalities you find on display at all networking events. That author had nicknames for various types of characters. It made me think of different types of people. The person I describe above can be referred to as the “Chatterbox.” The Chatterbox may be that way for a number of reasons such as (1) ego; (2) lack of self-awareness; or (3) social awkwardness. The reason doesn’t matter, but what you should do does: exit the conversation because it will provide no value for you. Positive conversations are shared experiences, not a one-sided monologue.
When meeting someone for the first time make sure you try to learn more about their background and their business versus what you speak about and share. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share about you and your business. If you focus on asking questions and learning about them, you will put yourself in a place to make a possible connection. There is a better chance they aren’t walking away thinking you talk too much and don’t really care about what they do or have to say.
I read another article on this subject a few years ago and I revisit it at times to keep its premise top of mind. The author of the article wrote about what he referred to as the Traffic Light Rule. It is another method to use to avoid talking too much. The idea is that the light is green the first twenty seconds you are speaking, yellow for the next twenty seconds and at the forty second mark the light turns red. If you talk through that red light you are talking too much.
The next time you meet someone new or are networking try to put these ideas into play. Don’t be a Chatterbox or run red lights. If you focus on the other person and not just on what you want to say you will put yourself in a better position to have meaningful interactions and make positive connections.
Most professionals still are working remotely and will be for the foreseeable future. This makes mentoring relationships more challenging. You can have phone calls or Zoom calls with a mentor or accountability partner, but mentoring relationships grow from forging a relationship based on knowing each other. Getting to know each other is harder to do by phone or Zoom unless that close relationship already existed. Even then, it’s not as good as being able to spend time together in person.
All of this makes beginning new mentoring relationships more challenging because it’s easier to build the relationship and trust through meeting in person, which then can be supplemented by phone calls or other manners of communication. This doesn’t mean solid new mentoring relationships can’t happen without meeting in person, it just means it is harder.
Imagine you switch jobs now. You are coming into a new company. Maybe it even has a formal mentoring program to help integrate new employees into the company and its culture. It’s much more difficult when you are sitting in your home office than if you are at the company’s actual office.
This is because the basis of the mentor mentee relationship is trust. Trust may be assumed at first, but it really is earned over time. The better the level of trust, the more both parties to a mentoring relationship gain. If you are in a mentoring relationship and it isn’t helping your professional growth, it may not be a good fit or maybe it has run its course. Your hope should be that by participating in such a relationship, you both evolve in many ways that benefit you in the long run.
So, depending on where you are professionally or in life, it always is a good time seek out a mentoring relationship. It will help if you are doing so now to acknowledge it may be more difficult or take longer to forge the bond that really allows such relationships to grow and flourish. But I challenge you to do so and look to play an important role in another’s story.
Everything is who you know is a true statement. This includes the company president and the janitor. You never know who will be important to you in the future or what that person may achieve. The company president may be important to you professionally, or maybe the janitor’s child had the same issue your child is having and has suggestions or connections that may help.
These are reasons to know many, people, as well as different types of people. Having relationships with a diverse set of people also can help you overcome implicit bias. Many times your relationships will take you farther and provide more opportunity than your brain. Don’t get me wrong, your brain can help you in life too, but sometimes you don’t get the chance to use your brain if a connection doesn’t provide the opportunity.
Make it a goal to expand your network and relationships. Don’t just make it numbers, but look for people from different backgrounds, types of work, etc. The more you nurture these types of relationships, the farther you will fly.
I heard this somewhere and it stayed with me. Think about this and you will know it’s true. If you can’t execute, your ideas are useless. This may mean you need to work with other’s whose skill sets compliment yours, i.e, they are better with follow through and can execute. Or it may mean you need to work on your follow through and execution.
What to take from this is that it’s important to have self-awareness and know your strengths and weaknesses. This is the only way to assess what you need to work on. But know that working on your weaker skills may not help you. If not, you need to look to others to work with who are strong in areas you aren’t
The last thing you need to be is the person with seemingly
great ideas who can’t act on them. Or maybe you are great taking ideas and
turning them into action, but couldn’t come up with the type of ideas you like
to work on even if you tried.
You need to figure out your skill sets, those you need to
work on and then determine whether you can get there or not. It is okay not to
get there because that is part of learning your strengths and weaknesses. As
you learn about yourself, you can adjust so you can, whether alone or with the
help of others, make progress executing and moving towards your goals.
We all make mistakes. Sometimes others notice, sometimes not. When you do, find a way to learn from it and laugh it off. If you do so, it will pass faster and you can move forward instead of looking backwards.
The more you let mistakes roll off of your back, other people will forget too. The point is to move forward, fix what you can, or note what you did so you can learn from it. This includes acknowledging mistakes to superiors at work or your spouse, etc.
It doesn’t mean there won’t be a tense or stressful moment. If you are honest and apologize, and maybe explain what happened or that you have learned from the mistake, the faster you will move past it.
Remember, everyone makes dumb mistakes. Everyone. You aren’t
alone in this. If you figure out how to deal with mistakes in a constructive
fashion they will be in your rearview mirror as you move into the future with a
clear conscience and free from the weight of the mistake.
We all are moving fast through our days. Are you nice to the people who cross your path? You should be because how you treat people is what stays with them when they think about you.
The benefits of being kind outweigh the efforts you put in. Knowing this and acting on it will help you and your reputation.
In the same vein, do random acts of kindness. Bring in donuts (or maybe something healthier) to your office for your co-workers. Compliment someone. Be patient with those who make mistakes, whether a co-worker or the waiter or waitress at a restaurant.
Doing so is good for you in many ways. The feedback and reactions you get will brighten your day. What you do or say will brighten others’ days. Try it and see how good it makes you feel.
When I was younger, clichés such as “The days are long, but the years are short” kind of bugged me. As I aged, I learned that clichés are clichés because they generally are true for most people. I am reminded of how quickly time goes by each week when Shutterfly sends me an email with a few pictures and a subject line such as “Your memories from this week ten years ago.” Then I look and see much younger versions of me, my wife and our children, friends and families, and fun travels from the past.
My point isn’t to lament the passage of time, or of aging, but to consider it in a different light. I think how fast time goes by in the big picture makes setting goals and planning how to reach them that much more important.
I encourage you to make a plan. It can be for a year, six months or whatever time frame works best for you. You may combine personal and work related goals in a single plan or have different plans, but writing down your goals makes it more likely you will reach them. In doing so, you should turn your goals into SMART goals (this can easily be Googled) with action steps to reach them. This is the first step. Many people do this and then don’t look at their plans again.
For most of us this alone won’t help us reach our goals because you need to keep your goals in mind – yes, the cliché that comes to mind is “out of sight, out of mind.” Instead, you need to keep your plan where you will see it regularly. This could be a printout on your desk at home or work (or both), or as a file on your computer’s desktop where you will see it every time you start it up. Or maybe use it as the wallpaper on your computer monitor as a reminder.
Then, and this is big, you actually need to review it regularly. This allows you to see where you are and adjust steps or goals, if necessary. You can make it a part of your routine on whatever time frame you think works by setting calendar items or tasks so you are reminding yourself to review your plan. If you try this, it likely will become a default activity you make time for, which is the definition of investing in yourself.
As the week of July 4th is upon us, a huge number of
Americans will take the roads and air to get out of town. Whether you are doing
so or not, make sure to plan time away from your work.
Vacation is important. It provides a break from your routine. This allows you to re-charge and connect with friends and family. Yes, this means you should try to not check your work email all the time when you are out. Your body and brain will thank you – it’s part of why most people go on and crave vacation.
If you must think about work while away, plan actions you can take to improve your business or generate new business, as opposed to just doing your usual work from some different, beautiful locale. Take the time and space to think about the bigger picture. That is a benefit of getting out of your day-to-day routine.
But also leave your work behind for at least part of your vacation so you really can allow yourself to rest and enjoy your time away.
Studies have shown that likable people are more successful. This makes sense because I feel comfortable saying that almost any person you ask would rather be around and do business with someone who is likable versus someone who is not. Because of this, it’s good that being likable is something you have the power to control and improve on.
Being likable is easy if you think about the qualities you like in others. For me, and likely most of you, these include being sincere, listening well, being transparent, and being understanding of others and their differences. And, again, people who have these skills and are highly likable have been shown to outperform those who don’t.
So what can you do to be more likable? Ask questions. People like to talk. If you ask questions the other person will think the conversation went well even if you only spoke a small percentage of the time. This involves listening fully so you are engaged in the conversation and can ask good follow up questions. I have a partner who says you want to picture the other person wearing a baseball hat that says “Make me interesting.” He means ask good questions and stay engaged.
Another thing you can do is be genuine. Nobody likes people who are fake. They want people they can trust, people who are comfortable in their own skin. If you are trying to win people over, you are approaching it the wrong way. Be yourself, and confident in who you are.
It also helps to have positive body language. Body language communicates a lot, even when you aren’t paying attention to it. An example is the person sitting across from you who is smiling, but has their arms crossed and is sitting in a closed manner. They think they look happy and confident, when they truly appear tense and closed off. If you are not sure about your body language. ask someone you trust. You may be surprised at what they say. If they tell you things they think you can improve on, you can practice in front of a mirror or pay more attention when you are speaking with others.
There are many other traits that go with likability, but the few I mentioned are a good place to start. Even if you believe you are likable, try to see if you can improve on these in business and personal settings. Practice can help, and it is worth your time and effort to invest in yourself.
I had a conversation this week that reminded me of a post I wrote years ago about the importance of preparation. I went back and looked. The post was spot on regarding the conversation between me and my client. So I revised that post for the current situation because it is a good reminder of how import preparation is.
This week, I called a client to set up a block of time to prepare for a mediation. The client didn’t understand why we needed to meet and thought you just go in and see if the dispute can be settled or not. This common misconception regarding mediation speaks to the importance of preparation.
I explained to the client that the two most important times in a lawsuit are mediation and trial. Mediation is the last time a party has any control over the outcome of a lawsuit because you have no real control when it is in the hands of the judge or jury. Why wouldn’t you prepare for such an important event??
It begs the question as to why you wouldn’t prepare for any important event or conversation, such as a mediation, a year end meeting with a supervisor regarding performance, salary or bonus issues, a job interview, an important conversation with a child, co-worker, spouse, etc. Preparation is much better than “winging it.”
Preparation allows you to create the message you want to communicate and will give you a better chance of making sure you and your position(s) are understood. This will put you in a better place to achieve any goals or desired results. It also will bolster your reputation and what others who deal with you think about you. And reputation is everything.
The message is prepare, prepare, prepare, and see where it gets you, because, as Benjamin Franklin smartly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”