Guiding concepts for leaders:
Everyone has a home:
Every candidate has a home and every employer wants people who fit in. Our job as recruiters and leaders is to help the right business and the right people, find each other.
I’m often amazed when I observe conversations between two people, at how little is actually being exchanged between the “conversationalists”. Most discussions I observe are really two people talking ‘over’ or ‘at’ each other, driven by their own agendas, the sound of their own voice and the feeling of emotional cleansing they experience when they get to “express” what is on their mind.
While I’m sure this has some “feel good” benefits, it probably does little to enhance an understanding of the other person’s point of view and feelings, a critical starting point if you are a leader trying to influence someone and create a positive change.
You might think you’re a great “active” listener but are you really? Author Nancy Kline says you can actually spark the thinking process in others if you provide silence, along with the means to ask the right questions.
In her book “Time to Think: Listening To Ignite The Human Mind” (Ward Lock), Kline offers 10 components of a thinking environment.
In recruiting we get to conduct, but also observe, numerous conversations. Drawing on these experiences we’ve added our own take under each heading.
- Pay Attention: listen with respect and genuine interest.
When you’re listening but your mind is drifting, it is OBVIOUS to the other person. At times this takes great effort but for leaders there is no excuse for not putting in that effort if you are genuine about connecting.
- Ask Incisive Questions: remove the assumptions that limit ideas.
So much conversation occurs between two people who are answering what they “think”, the other person has asked or what they want to hear, as opposed to really simplifying the questions and answering EXACTLY the issues at hand. If you’re ever in any doubt, always inquire “can I clarify what you mean?”
- Equality: Treat the person you’re with as a thinking peer.
- Appreciation: Practise a 5:1 ratio of appreciation to criticism.
We are ALL driven by the need to feel loved and appreciated. Even when we know someone is going out of their way to praise us, it lifts our spirits and makes us far more likely to participate openly. Switch the ratio to be “overweight criticism”, and watch the defensive reaction you create.
- Ease: Offer freedom from rush or urgency.
Agenda’s are fine for structured business meetings, but where difficult personal issues need to be discussed, create adequate time and space.
- Encouragement: Move the conversation beyond competition
- Feelings: Allow sufficient emotional release to restore thinking.
If there is emotion associated with the issues to be discussed, then until such time as the emotion is expressed/released, most of us are unable to think clearly. While in that state most of the words that come out will not be core to the issue, but rather a person will be simply making ‘noise’ as a defensive mechanism to hold themselves together.
- Information: Provide a full and accurate picture of reality.
Good or bad. Never subjective. With as few words as possible. Repeated only where it was not understood.
- Place: Create a physical environment that says to people “you matter”.
This might be a place away from the normal environment that exudes some sense of calm and peace.
- Diversity: Know that differences add quality.
We’re regularly amazed at how myopic people (all of us in fact) can be, subconsciously seeking out those who look, sound and feel, like someone we are comfortable with. The further our targets move away from this norm, the more we tend to judge them differently. Putting this aside and really getting to know the real person can reveal whole new worlds of interesting personalities.