It’s often said that great leaders make those around them feel important. Yet, how many leaders do you know who orchestrate their conversations to convince you about how important they are: how busy they are, how much they know, how many people depend on them, and so on? If you desire to be a great leader, you have to be wholly present with the people around you. In this blog, I’m going to give you 2 tangible tips for how to have conversations that are truly meaningful that leave the person you’re speaking with feeling valued and important.
Forget Your Title
Here’s a true story of an individual who was entirely too concerned, even to his company’s detriment, with having people know who he is and what position he holds. We will call this leader “Bob” (not his real name). Bob was at a stand-up dinner event hosted by his company for some very important, potential clients. These clients were wined and dined in order to see the organization up close and personal.
When introducing Bob to one of the dinner guests, an “underling,” aka a lower-titled individual forgot to mention Bob’s official title. The client acknowledged the introduction and soon left to meet other people. It wasn’t long before Bob chased down the potential client to inform her of his importance as the Chief _____________Officer at the organization. He then went on and on about how the entire event was all his doing.
Wearing a disturbed look on her face, it was clear the potential client, a purchasing agent for a large company, did not care about Bob’s title. In fact, she was put off by the fact that he felt it necessary to make sure she knew how important he was. If he had just waited humbly and allowed for her to find out his title one way or another, rather than having to announce it to her and the rest of the world, he may have landed his business a new, valuable client. But, his inability to let go of his title for a moment’s time, lost him her company’s business.
How many times are you concerned that people know your title or how important you are? Great leaders are secure in themselves and in their role. Weak leaders are insecure and have to toot their own horn. Most of us have been guilty of promoting ourselves in this way, but it shows our lack of confidence, which causes others to lose confidence in us.
Focus on the Person in Front of You
I know that sounds easy, but I can tell you from experience, it takes work. How often do you find your mind wandering when someone is talking to you, or thinking about what you are going to say next, or who you could be talking to instead? Or, or, or…? The reason we forget what someone was just saying to us is oftentimes because we were never really listening to the person in the first place.
This often happens when we’re introduced to someone. We hear his or her name, but we’re not really focused, so before long we realize we can’t remember the person’s name. If we listen and focus on the person in front of us rather than the myriad of other things consuming our thoughts, we won’t have to worry about being embarrassed for calling the person by the wrong name, or by no name at all. Plus, we won’t find ourselves walking away from so many conversations realizing that we have no idea what was just discussed.
So, be present in each conversation. Don’t look over or through the people you are interacting with; give them your whole attention. It will go a long way toward building trust in the people you are trying to lead.
Have you ever had someone not pay attention to you while you were speaking to them? How did it make you feel? Have you ever realized you had no idea what the other person just said to you? How did you deal with the situation? I look forward to hearing your comments on this topic.
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