Remote listening

One cannot overstate the importance of listening.

And now that most are relegated to their own home offices, conversations happening through a screen, listening is more challenging than ever.

We are all very busy trying to control our appearance, our background, our environment, the kids screaming in the other room, the cat jumping on the desk to broadcast their behind, the email that just came in, the little red circle signaling that somebody just sent us a message – it might be important. And the most we can do is listening while waiting for our turn to speak.

Just being mindful of this very challenge can help you find ways to overcome it.

  • Use the camera only if you can handle it, it is OK to keep it off.
  • If you are on a two-screen setup, turn off the second screen. Maximize the app you use for the call, and shut down all other distractions (email and browser, in particular).
  • Keep your hands off the mouse or trackpad.
  • Take notes on a piece of paper.
  • Use headphones.
  • Apply coaching tactics such as asking open questions and mirroring, to keep yourself engaged and the other listened (you can find some very useful ideas in this past post).

We’ve got this!

Out of the nest

Shit happens, right?

We are all familiar with this way of saying. We have used it or heard it or written it o read it many times, in many different circumstances.

What we seem to not be very familiar with, though, is the actual situation of shit happening. We go about our lives as if we are seeking perfection, we convince ourselves that we can control every tiny detail, and eventually we are completely unprepared for the thousands of times when things don’t go according to plans.

We ought to learn to let go.

Not because we don’t care. Not because we have given up. Not because we turn our attention to something else.

But because we do care, we are committed, and we want to succeed.

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.

Pema Chödrön

High five

We navigate most conversations with the following question in mind.

What can I say so that the other will like me?

And even when we interpret the other’s will perfectly, we never leave the conversation with a feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

We should instead head into the conversation with an answer to the following question.

What can I say so that, at the end, I will give myself a high five?

Exploring feedback

Feedback is such a popular topic nowadays that managers are pretty much forced to give some.

And so, they resort to “good job!” – or the equivalent “great job!”, “terrific!”, “fantastic work!”.

If you are getting that, take the time to make your manager’s life a bit more challenging. No need to worry, you are just asking them to do their job.

Ask them.

What did you find good in what I did?

What do you think could have been better?

How would you have managed that situation?

How does this relate to our high level goal?

Where do I grow from here?

Managing disengagement

You can’t just let disengagement be. You have to manage it.

It’s easy to manage motivated people, people you like to work with, people who are talented and constantly deliver good work. It’s more challenging to manage those who are disillusioned, who have have little ambition and feel out of place, who end up meeting all requests with silence and a nod.

And you can’t just let them be. Because disengagement spreads and it touches everyone it meets.

It’s likely that disengaged people will end up leaving. It’s your responsibility to manage the transition. To ensure they get the best deal out of it. And to ensure that they don’t leave disengagement behind.