Next Steps Toward Mindful Leadership: 1. Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication

Next Steps Toward Mindful Leadership: 1. Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication

1. SETTING THE STAGE FOR MEANINGFUL INTERACTIONS AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Setting the stage for a meaningful interaction is critical. Here are some examples:

In-Office MeetingGrant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | Mindful Leadership | Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication | In Person Meeting Image

  • If you’re in your office and someone comes in to talk with you, I suggest getting up from your desk and walking around to greet them. This does several things: it truly acknowledges the person, it takes you away from your screen and it removes the barrier of your desk and screen/s from between you. It levels the playing field and creates a sense of your immediate attentiveness.

Phone Call

Grant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | Mindful Leadership | Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication | In Phone Call Meeting Image

  • Similarly, if you get a phone call it helps to distance yourself from your screen or other distractions. If you’re on a cell call it’s easy to get up and take the call away from your desk, if it’s a landline you can still stand up and disconnect from whatever you were doing before the call.

 

 

 

Tip:

There’s another benefit when you take these conscious actions to focus your attention. You’re getting up and moving. As standing desks get more and more popular, the benefits of standing and shifting your posture is being highlighted. Getting up regularly gets your blood flowing and can help to clear your head.

 Group MeetingsGrant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | Mindful Leadership | Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication | Group Meeting Image

  • Another example of setting the stage is in group meetings. Often times we bring our laptops, or tablets, to meetings to take notes. And we have our cell phones face up in front of us. All too often an email pops up, or we’re reminded of something we needed to do, and we get distracted from the meeting in which we’re supposed to participating. If you want to optimize the meeting potential I would recommend setting a standard to not bring a device and to turn your cell phone face down.

Tip:

If you need to take notes, try using a digital pen. Several pens and digital pads are available and allow you to take notes and the relevant app translates your notes. LiveScribe was one of the early examples and Moleskine also has a digital pen and some nice notepads. This innovation is really mobile, allows you to take notes without distractions, but also allows you to search those notes at a later time through an app, removing a need for a computer.

Virtual MeetingsGrant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | Mindful Leadership | Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication | Virtual Meeting Image

  • Many meetings happen virtually these days and one thing I like about videoconferencing calls is you can see the participants. When I took an executive position with a large national company, I inherited a tradition of a large videoconferencing call with a group of General Managers. Conceptually, this was a wonderful opportunity for these managers to connect in spite of geographic distances between them. However, it was the norm for some participants to turn off their camera. Others weren’t quite so courteous, leaving their camera on while they they kept banging away at emails and stepping away from their desk to do something in the middle of the meeting! This was a practice I discouraged from the outset. If the meeting was at all valuable, people needed to be present, and not routinely distracted.

Tip:

There’s a great book by Cameron Herold, called “Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable.” As Cameron elucidates in his book, most managers have never been trained or coached on how to run an awesome meeting. He details actionable steps to make meetings more effective, and he also provides a set of metrics for what a successful meeting should look like. Partly we need to reevaluate how we perceive meetings, particularly keeping focus on what they’re meant to accomplish.

In the scenario where I had distracted managers on a video conference call, I asked them what they thought the most valuable elements of the meetings were, and what parts they didn’t like. Funnily enough, the participants raised the elements that concerned me most. They pointed out that they felt it was rude when people turned off their camera or didn’t focus their attention on the speaker. They also felt a lot of what was being discussed was not relevant to the group, as a whole. We went about tuning up and tightening the agenda and cut the meeting time by over half. With the managers asked to be present and engaged, with an assurance of keeping the meeting short and on point, these weekly videoconference calls became invaluable.

Visit the other 2 chapters of “Next Steps Toward Mindful Leadership”:

1. Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication

2. A Great Hack for Introducing Meaningful Communication and Teamwork – The Daily Standup

3. The Heart & Soul of Communication – Visual and Auditory Connection

Get In Touch

Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation.

Charlottesville, Virginia

434.996.5510

Find Grant on LinkedIn:

Next Steps to Mindful Leadership: 2. A Great Hack for Introducing Meaningful Communication and Teamwork: The Daily StandUp

Next Steps to Mindful Leadership: 2. A Great Hack for Introducing Meaningful Communication and Teamwork: The Daily StandUp

2. A GREAT HACK FOR INTRODUCING MEANINGFUL COMMUNICATION AND TEAMWORK: THE DAILY STANDUP MEETING

 

Grant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | A Great Hack for Introducing Meaningful Communication and Teamwork - The Daily Standup Meeting | ImageAnother example of getting participants present in meetings comes from Verne Harnish. I had been introduced to the concept of a stand-up meeting in a talk I attended about the Ritz Carlton’s famous service model. Verne further refined this concept for me with a three-step process, and I used it to great effect in a beleaguered organization I was asked to come and work with and reform:

This company’s flagship facility was struggling on every metric. There was a team of talented managers and department heads, but they were operating in silos. Within the first week of arriving, I decided to institute a daily stand-up. Normally, I would have started conducting these types of meetings weekly, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Now in the stand-up, we stood (hard to be on your phone when you’re standing in a circle facing each other), and each person briefly (ideally sixty seconds or less – this takes practice) reflected on the following:

Three Questions for a Daily Stand-Up Meeting of Managers or Department Heads:

  1. What things of note have transpired for you and your department since the last meeting?
  1. What do you plan to achieve before the next scheduled meeting?
  1. Please share the rocks in your shoes. What challenges are you facing and what issues are getting in your way or holding you back?

Grant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | A Great Hack for Introducing Meaningful Communication and Teamwork - The Daily Standup Meeting | Teamwork and Communication ImageWhen we started, these managers were none too happy to be meeting on a daily basis, recounting their woes and what they planned to do about them. There was nowhere to hide, and as the posturing and objections subsided these meetings began to make them focus their thinking on what was really going on in their department and what they were doing about it.

Most importantly, it gave them a valuable insight into each other’s department and over time teamwork grew out of improved communications which drove empathy and understanding. In short order, this flagship facility shifted course and began performing as it had in its heyday, many years before. Rocks became pebbles and pebbles became grains of sand.

This is a pointed example of getting leaders to be present. And for me, it reinforced the incredible value of short, sharp, focused meetings with a simple agenda.

There are many ways in which you set the stage for yourself, and others, to be truly present in your communications. Minimizing distractions, removing barriers, having ground rules and focus, will all assist in your efforts to consciously connect in all your communications.

Visit the other 2 chapters of “Next Steps Toward Mindful Leadership”:

1. Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication

2. A Great Hack for Introducing Meaningful Communication and Teamwork – The Daily Standup

3. The Heart & Soul of Communication – Visual and Auditory Connection

Get In Touch

Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation.

Charlottesville, Virginia

434.996.5510

Find Grant on LinkedIn:

The Next Steps to Mindful Leadership: 3. The Heart & Soul of Communication: Visual & Auditory Connection

The Next Steps to Mindful Leadership: 3. The Heart & Soul of Communication: Visual & Auditory Connection

3. THE HEART & SOUL OF COMMUNICATION: VISUAL & AUDITORY CONNECTION

 

Visual Connection

Visual information that we take in and process enables us to interpret meaning from what we see. This interpretation plays a critical role in our day-to-day interactions. In seeking to understand someone, his or her motivations and intentions, the visual cues we receive (aka body language), can significantly impact your interpretation of the conversation.

Grant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | The Heart and Soul of Communication: Visual and Auditory Connection | Eye Contact ImageAre you connecting visually when you meet someone, or when you are in a conversation or meeting?

A great place to practice this art is when you first meet someone. My wife and I have coached our kids to look someone in the eye when they first meet them. To connect visually with that person, shake their hand, or acknowledge them as the circumstances may demand. This is tough for a teenager. Not only because they may lack confidence around adults, but also because adults typically don’t pay a lot of heed to kids (a big mistake in my mind).

What our kids have found when they do look the adult in the eye and confidently connect with them, is that the adult’s response changes. The interaction has meaning. There’s a basis of respect established. It amplifies them in the eyes of the person with whom they’re interacting.

Grant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | The Heart and Soul of Communication: Visual and Auditory Connection | Eye Contact Cheers ImageAnother example of making that visual connection relates to my wife. She is Czech, and as a result I have been exposed to a lot of toasts (the Czechs are the #1 beer drinking nation, per capita, in the world). The Czech toast is “Na zdraví!” which means “to your health.” Upon announcing “Na zdraví!”, each person clinks glasses with the other people in the toast. Making eye contact with each person individually is critical though, and you would be considered rude if you didn’t connect visually with the other people in the toast.

This experience completely changed my perspective on this exchange of good will. Being Australian, I am very familiar with toasting, but I realized when I met our Czech relatives, that most of us are missing an incredibly important ingredient when we say “cheers.” We’re missing the opportunity of conscious visual connection with the person to whom we were wishing “good health”.

This might seem like a funny anecdote, but it was much more than that for me. It showed me how routinely we didn’t connect, eye-to-eye, with those we meet and interact. It demonstrated to me the significant difference between saying the words that usually carry little meaning or context, and truly connecting with that individual.

If we can extend this concept into conversations and meetings and constantly seek to connect visually with the speaker, or with those we’re speaking to, the quality of the exchange goes up exponentially. When we turn our body to the speaker and look the speaker in the eye we establish a connection words cannot hope to achieve in isolation.

Added bonus, the person who is speaking will become more connected with you, too. If you make a point of looking into the eyes of the person who is speaking to you, or the group, you’ll find their attention drawn to you.

 

Auditory Focus

If you have a visual connection, listening to the person’s words just got a lot easier.

Grant Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | The Heart and Soul of Communication: Visual and Auditory Connection | Listening ImageWhen you’re bringing in visual and auditory information from one focal point you’re doing what you’re innately wired to do. You’re connecting all the words and visual cues to form a more cohesive and complete picture of what the speaker is trying to impart.

Another example of getting participants present in meetings comes from Verne Harnish. I had been introduced to the concept of a stand-up meeting in a talk I attended about the Ritz Carlton’s famous service model. Verne further refined this concept for me with a three-step process, and I used it to great effect in a beleaguered organization I was asked to come and work with and reform:

This company’s flagship facility was struggling on every metric. There was a team of talented managers and department heads, but they were operating in silos. Within the first week of arriving, I decided to institute a daily stand-up. Normally, I would have started conducting these types of meetings weekly, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Now in the stand-up, we stood (hard to be on your phone when you’re standing in a circle facing each other), and each person briefly (ideally sixty seconds or less – this takes practice) reflected on the following:

The 6 Fundamentals of Active Listening Include:

  • Refocus when you recognize that your mind has wandered.
    • Even if you’re not distracted by devices or other people, your mind will wander. It’s inevitable. When you are distracted, or wandering off, what’s important is to Zoom back in on the speaker and their words, every time you find yourself drifting.
  • Create a mental picture of key words or phrases to describe in your mind’s eye what you’re hearing.
    • When you’re in a conversation, or a meeting, try and create a mental picture of key words or phrases to describe in your mind’s eye what you’re hearing. This skill forces you to focus on the meaning of what is being said and not just the words.

  • Stay away from formulating your response and just listen.
    • If you’re in an interactive communication, it’s quite normal to be forming your thoughts and responses and tuning out what is being said. Even though this is natural, it also disconnects you from the speaker’s words. If you find yourself formulating a response and not truly listening, bring your attention back to the key words and phrases. This discipline improves your listening skills enormously and makes you a good listener.

  • Pace yourself with the speaker to give them time to process.
    • The last point brings up another important listening skill, and that is to pace yourself with the speaker. Meaning: give people processing time. In turn, hopefully the person you’re communicating with will reciprocate by giving you the time and space to gather your thoughts, after you’ve listened intently to them.

  • Successful communication is a two-way street. Ask for attention if necessary.
    • Then there’s the gift of reciprocation. Communicating successfully is a two-way street. Obviously, we hope that the person on the other side of the conversation is working as hard as you are to be a good and active listener. If they’re not, it is incumbent on you to ask for their attention. That can be hard, and sometimes intimidating, but if you’re devoting your time and attention to a communication, it is not unreasonable to ask that person or people involved, to reciprocate appropriately.

  • Ask questions and seek to understand and interject at appropriate junctures.

    • Lastly, good listening often involves asking questions; seeking to further understand; interjecting at appropriate junctures to ensure you’re interpreting the message accurately. This is part of the art of listening involves staying focused on the speaker’s words, framing them in your mind, and in turn paraphrasing them at appropriate junctures.

As I discussed in my original piece, “Three Foundations and The First Step Toward Mindful Leadership,

The ability to be truly present in a conversation or meeting is a pillar of great leadership and underwrites great communications. 

If you are investing time in mindful practices, your ability to lead will be enhanced greatly by leveraging your focus in all your communications.

Re-Visit the other 2 chapters of “Next Steps Toward Mindful Leadership”:

1. Setting the Stage for Meaningful Interactions and Effective Communication

2. A Great Hack for Introducing Meaningful Communication and Teamwork – The Daily Standup

3. The Heart & Soul of Communication – Visual and Auditory Connection

Get In Touch

Send an email via the form below or call to set up a free consultation.

Charlottesville, Virginia

434.996.5510

Find Grant on LinkedIn:

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