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Submitted by Steven on


For anyone who has listened to this podcast only once, I highly recommend that you schedule some time to listen to it again. I've listened to it three or four times at least, and every time I come away with more insights.

I'm struggling to implement the recommendations on building stronger relationships, and the other day I was thinking to myself "Darn it, this is really hard". A day later, I listened to the podcast again, only to hear Mark say “People complain about this being hard. Yeah it’s hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it and salaries would be lower."
I hung my head…

[Mark, I hope I haven’t butchered that quote too badly. That's the way I remembered it]

Anyway, I thought I would share a small A-HA moment. Not sure if this is correct, but if some folks can provide feedback it would be helpful.

I have long been a proponent of having value in a conversation, particularly in a meeting. Lots of times I get into a discussion with someone and it occurs to me part way through that we are off topic and the conversation is really frivolous. What I really want to do is have a discussion about… well, just about something valuable. I get impatient, and want to move the discussion forward.

It occurred to me that these types of light, playful conversations are not as “un-focused” as I have been thinking. They're very focused… on building relationships. And when I step in and change the topic of conversation, it’s kind of like telling the other person that I don't appreciate their attempts to build a relationship.

Thoughts on this?

mauzenne's picture
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The realization that during any conversation there are at least two thing occurring (the REAL topic ... and relationship building) was a HUGE aha moment for me years ago. And the more attention I paid to the second part, the easier the first part got. Some people got that intuitively; I didn't. My *natural* inclination is to sacrifice the relationship in pursuit of the business objective. Needless to say, I've learned the errors of my ways.

By the way, the *really* cool thing now is that even if I'm not achieving my business objectives in the conversation, I can at a moment decide to focus instead on the relationship part of the conversation. I can "win" either way. ;-)

I should also point out that there was a VERY clear inflection point in my career growth at the point I made this distinction.


itilimp's picture
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This was also a learning point I took away from this same cast. Previously I've always prided myself on my work ethic and seen idle office banter and chit chat as just that... idle, and a waste of work time.

NOW I see it as a valuable way of building relationships with colleagues and have felt less isolated and know people better because I engage more and don't feel guilty for not doing 'real' work. People are a huge part of work, therefore it is perfectly valid.

It's been a real struggling point for me but I think now I finally understand and recognise it, my colleagues are appreciating the effort and have noticed the difference.

As an added bonus, because I engage in the talk now I don't get stressed about people not working as I used to.