I anticipate meetings with clients and colleagues differently since 2020. Why? I am discovering that your and my professional qualities changed, even if we are unwilling to acknowledge this situation.
So, rather than perceiving a meeting as getting together with old friends, I set my expectations differently in 2023. I look forward to meeting strangers, friends I have yet to make. As a result, even though these people look extremely familiar to me, I see them with fresh eyes. I devote the same quality of perception as I do for meetings with folks I truly have never met.
Why do this exercise today, tomorrow, and moving forward?
Moving forward post-pandemic, our professional qualities changed. Do you know which one (or more) of your own qualities transformed due to your experiences since 2020? Uncovering these qualities allows you create a different set of expectations for yourself and others, inside and outside the workplace.
For starters, even if you work in the same location with the same people, things have changed, haven’t they? Something feels off as you try to pick up where you left off. The same conversations you “used” to have no longer resound between your colleagues and clients. Rather than feeling comfortable, these interactions can be uncomfortable and unsettling, can’t they?
However, if you create a format for renewing existing relationships as a variation of meeting a stranger for the first time, you create better outcomes. Here is a four-step strategy I use.
- First, become more intentional in listening and responding. Do the same words you say to each other make sense, within your (and their) current context? Why or why not?
- Next, incorporate greater observational acumen focused on physical and linguistic nuances. Is there an assumed collegiality which you (or they) no longer wish to honor? Which experience may contribute to this “new” set of behaviors?
- Then, choose your level of patience in establishing your working relationship, anew. Chances are, as you become more intentional and observational, what you see and hear impacts your level of patience and tolerance for taking up where you left off when rekindling existing relationships.
- Consequently, draw a personal line in the professional sand regarding how much professional energy (including emotional energy) you are willing to invest in new and existing professional relationships.
As a result, you will (at least mentally) walk away from toxic relationships, even if you are obligated to continue working with these individuals. When these individuals no longer are a drag on your professional energy, you free yourself to seek more innovative and collaborative relationships within your organization, or elsewhere.
Plus, when applied to your current client base, these criteria impact your choice to do future business with the people who bring out your best. And vice versa.
If anything, our personal and professional time, since 2020, reinforces that time, indeed, is short. And precious. This week, take time to discover which of your professional qualities changed most profoundly. Then, rather than forcing yourself to go back to the way it was, decide to meet yourself where you are: today and moving forward. Yes, the first stranger to re-engage with is yourself. Remember to be kind to yourself. Because your future best self is forged from the intersection of meeting who you were before, as you renew yourself with who you are now.
Meet people where they are. Get to where you really need to go. Together. | One Millimeter Mindset | Professional Innovation | Cross Functional Leadership | Speaker, Consultant, Mentor |
How do you become more professionally visible, cross-functionally relevant, and strategically valuable to people who solve problems differently than you do? Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset ™ speaking, consulting, and mentoring programs catalyze people to collaborate more innovatively by moving one purpose-driven one millimeter beyond the mindset holding you back from moving forward. Create and implement more strategically agile, enduring, and rewarding outcomes. Babette’s 3 Core Questions, 4 Change Agreements, and 5 Professional Whys catalyze everyone to ask the questions that get everyone to where they really need to go, together. Babette is a business-oriented STEM professional, qualitative Voice of the Customer facilitator, PMI-certified Wicked (Complex) Problem Solver, Duke Corporate Education licensed Strategic Agility practitioner, and Six Sigma Green Belt (Quality). She is a member of SHRM, PMI, and the National Speakers Association (NSA). All programs delivered virtually and/or in-person. Her playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available in digital format on Amazon.com.
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