The degree of success that you achieve in business will ultimately come down to the degree of depth of your conversations. Business is, essentially, nothing more than a conversation. If you lose the conversation with your customers, you will eventually lose the business. And if you lose the conversation with your teammates, you will eventually lose the business. And if you stop engaging in personal conversations with yourself through silent reflection, eventually your business life will suffer. The more you can keep engaging in thoughtful and stimulating conversations with all those you surround yourself with, the more you will find the business success you deserve as well as the personal satisfaction that is your birthright.
The primary block to us having necessary conversations at work is technology. While technology is a wonderful servant, in many instances it has become our master. Rather than walking down the hall to have a “belly to belly” conversation with a member of our team, we fire off an email. Rather than making the time to have a lunch with a valued customer to further deepen our relationship, we leave a voicemail to save ourselves time. All this reliance on technology severs our human connections and human connections are the primary driver of business growth. People love doing business with people who care about them. People love doing business with people they trust. People love doing business with people who they feel an emotional bond with. Without regular and sustained conversations, no such bond can exist.
Here are 5 practices that will help you keep engaging in conversations and, as a result, continue to experience higher levels of success:
1. Make time for “human moments” at work. Research has shown that one of the main reasons that people are no longer as motivated and loyal at work is because they do not feel that they are part of a community. “Human moments” are infrequent. To increase the “human moments” within your workplace, carve out the time on a daily basis to personally meet with people and connect with them at a level beyond the superficial. Speak to people’s interests. Open your heart and truly listen to them. Ask them about their family, their passions and their hopes. Show them that you are truly there for them and they will respond with greater energy, empathy and commitment to you.
2. You can also keep increasing your conversations by making sure that you “circulate”. Circulating simply means that you make it a priority, as much as possible, to take your clients out to lunch or to breakfast. Whenever possible, visit your customers’ place of work to get a feel for their environment and the energy of their workplace. Make the time to “show up fully” and to be there for people at a very human level.
3. You can also keep extending conversations with your customers and your teammates by creating a rich community. Keep thinking about building your community and taking care of it. This might involve sending an article that has been of value to you to every member of this community every 90 days. This might involve making calls to every member of your community when you are stuck in an airport for 2 hours and have nothing to do. This might involve sending a book you have read that has touched you at a deep level to all community members.
4. Remember that “conversations at home” are even more important than your business conversations. Having a peaceful and fulfilling home life serves as a platform to fuel your business success. If you lose the conversation with your partner, you will lose the relationship You are missed in Spanish. If you lose the conversation with your children, you will lose the connection with your children. In other words, if you lose the conversation and stop having deep communication with your family, you will ultimately lose your family. Make the time to talk in a very open and engaging way to the members of your family on a daily basis. It does not have to take a long time but it should be strong quality time.
5. Don’t forget the “inner conversation”. I have discovered in my own life that the more I make time for self-conversations, the more thoughtful, innovative, effective and happy I am. On almost a daily basis, I journal. Journaling is nothing more than a conversation that I have with myself. I reflect on how I am working and how I am living. I reflect on the insights I have learned through my day and the course corrections I must make to improve. I reflect on the lessons I am learning, on the people I am meeting and the thoughts I am thinking. It is interesting that only humans have the capacity to step out of their thinking and evaluate their thoughts. This is an incredible gift that only human beings possess. We can actually study our thinking and witness our thoughts. The more we witness our thoughts, the more we can disengage from our thinking if it does not serve us and make higher choices around better thoughts.