After 3 years of not seeing our family and friends in Slovakia, we have just returned from two wonderful weeks of reconnecting. It was like we saw each other yesterday, we picked up at pace in deep conversation and instantly trust surrounded us.
A lot has happened in 3 years, so there was a lot of listening and taking time to hear what each other have experienced. There was huge joy and some sorrow shared. At the end of each catch up, my cheeks ached from all the smiling and laughing.
Many of you will know Slovak language is not one of my strengths, I can understand everything, but cannot formulate the words in a grammatically correct sentence to reply, so I find myself speaking in English and hoping, I have understood the conversation correctly, or I say nothing at all, which becomes exhausting pretty quickly and I disengage.
How does my holiday tales link to work?
Listening & Being Present
Listening in another language may be an extreme example, but in work conversations can come from diverse perspectives, it can be easy to shut down and make assumption of your own stance, with no appetite to listen, understand or move.
Make an effort to be present and really listen, remove distractions, stop what you were doing and pay full attention to the other person. The speaker will feel listened to before you even respond, which will have a positive impact on how the speaker feels in the conversation.
In each conversation, I was so mindful of concentrating and trying to follow the flow. There was no space to think about other things, as I was intent on listening and responding appropriately.
When you see a challenging conversation, or a work nemesis approach, turn the challenge on yourself, to stay engaged and be considerate in how you respond – this may turn around productivity and improve conversations.
Connection & Engagement
Having spent so long on Teams the cues that accompany the spoken word have been muted, but influence so much of the connection and engagement greatly. I noticed when I got lost in translation of the spoken word, I was still able to follow the conversation by observing facial expressions, body language, tone and tempo.
One client shared his observation about the observations he made, upon meeting his team in person. There were physical changes in a team member that could not be seen on Teams. Immediately the connection was there to support the team member given the new information.
Time spent together off ‘the task’ offers opportunities to get into topics that would otherwise be left out. This is where the real quality conversations come from.
Reconnecting and Focusing Teams
Either side of my holidays, I have been immersed in Leadership Team Development. I have been working with Executive Leader Team Development, which mirrors my personal experience of Reconnecting, Listening and Being Present with the Team in person, Engaging on the deeper level, beyond the tasks we need to undertake, but getting to know each other and taking time to listen to others perspectives.
I often talk about slowing down and when we slow down, we can see things in a new light. The opportunity to slow down and openly talk about challenges, new direction, strategy and how best the team and individuals can perform.
Recent Feedback from Team Development
“A fab day – such a positive experience – what a journey in such a short time. Thank you!”
“Huge thanks for working with us!”
“Thank you for guiding us through a really great day with compassion and focus.”
PS. The picture mostly features Kofola, which is the equivalent of Irn Bru to Scotland!