Recently I read a quote that has stuck with me. “You bring your own weather to a picnic.” At first I laughed a bit and then I thought about it in many different contexts. If I show up and let the troubles of the day and frustrations I might be experiencing color my attitude and mood, I bring rain, gray clouds and possible thundershowers to that conversation. If I put on a smile, bring some energy and positivity to a meeting, I bring sunshine and blue skies. I’m not advocating being fake or disingenuous. I’m saying you control the “weather” at the meetings you attend and the conversations you enter. If you want a positive outcome, enter with a positive or optimistic attitude.
- Don’t multi-task – be present and be in the moment
- Don’t pontificate – enter each conversation assuming you have something to learn
- Use open ended questions – “What was that like?” “How did that feel?”
- Go with the flow – as you’re listening, thoughts will come into your mind and you stop listening, don’t let that happen, let the thoughts come into your mind and then let them go right back out of your mind
- If you don’t know, say you don’t know – err on the side of caution
- Don’t equate your experience with theirs – your experience is never the same and it’s not about you
- Try not to repeat yourself – don’t just keep rephrasing your view
- Stay out of the weeds – people usually aren’t interested in past dates, years and names
- Listen – if your mouth is open, you’re not listening
- Be brief – take time to think before you speak so you don’t ramble
Most importantly, enter a meeting or conversation curious and interested in what other people have to share. Be prepared to be amazed! If you would like me to facilitate a conversation with your team on how to have better conversations, I’m happy to help!
For more help on bring good weather to your meetings and conversations, watch Celeste Headlee’s Ted Talk on the 10 ways to have a better conversation.