We’re living during a time when video conference calls have become the norm. Many people are realizing that there is little time to get to know their co-workers or business partners. This is creating corporate cultures that are impersonal, and it’s becoming less attractive to current and future employees who are seeking more collaborative and engaged workplaces. It’s time for corporate leaders to focus on consciously finding ways to offer their employees more opportunities to get to know each other in more authentic and intentional ways.
1. Be genuinely interested in others.
The daily menu of meetings via conference calls is ingrained in our corporate cultures. The opportunity now is to find ways, virtually and in person, to meet with people to listen and learn. That’s right — do lots of listening, allowing the other person to share their thoughts and ideas.
Ask yourself, how many times have you been in conversations with your boss, a co-worker, a friend or a family member and felt like that person was not paying attention? Maybe you saw them fiddle with their phone or look at their watch. Let’s put away the distractions. Everyone has a story to tell and wants to share it and be heard. If you give them that courtesy, you’ll receive the same respect in return. In time, you’ll develop more meaningful relationships.
You might want to take some additional steps to sustain these relationships. Take the time to email them after every conversation. If you’re following them on social media, send the person well wishes during their birthdays or other significant events. Of course, I’m a huge believer that sending a handwritten note is a lost art and goes a long way. Since so few people ever do this, you can bring a smile to someone’s face with a short, friendly note.
2. Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely.
How can you remember someone’s name? Easy — treat their name like gold. Cherish it. Dale Carnegie wrote: “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” After hearing a new name, keep it in your head for a few extra seconds. If you immediately start talking about the weather, there’s a low chance you’ll remember it. You can even cheat — just the simple act of saying, “Shari! Nice to meet you and your doggie, Yo-yo. OK, just so I won’t forget, Shari, Yo-yo, Shari, Yo-yo.” You can even invent mnemonic devices or visuals for yourself. For example: “Shari, who wore a red T-shirt, loves strawberries and has stories she loves to share.” If you see Shari next week, one of these aids will resurface to help you remember her name.
When you remember a person’s name, you show them respect. You let them know that you value them as a person. Once you make a conscious effort to do this, you’ll see the magic happen. Next time you’re with that person, you’ll see a noticeable difference when you greet them by name.
3. Listen more than you talk.
Here’s a relationship tip for business (or even marriage): If you make your partner’s happiness more important than your own, you will have a long and prosperous relationship. How do you do this? It starts by listening.
You have to be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. When we’re listening to a loved one vent about their problems, it’s very tempting to say, “You should do this instead…” In every relationship, you’ll want to understand when the other person is seeking your advice or asking you to listen.
To build that trust in a relationship, you may want to ask that simple question from the outset. By doing so, you’ll avoid awkward moments when you lose sight of the power of actively listening. Encourage people to talk about themselves, valuing their ideas and insights. You may not agree with everything that person says, but you will send a message that you are open and accepting. In turn, you will recognize their importance and show your sincerity in doing so.
Our workplace cultures are evolving. This is not a time to use video calls and meetings to not engage with our employees. Take the time to get to know your team members. Listen more attentively so that you can learn about what they’re thinking about. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how well you’ll be received — and what a more engaging workplace you’re creating.