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We live in a time when video conferencing has become the norm. Many people realize that there is little time to get to know their colleagues or business partners. This creates corporate cultures that are impersonal, and it becomes less attractive to current and future employees seeking more collaborative and engaged workplaces. It’s time for business leaders to focus on consciously finding ways to empower their employees to get to know each other in a more authentic and purposeful way.
1. Be genuinely interested in others.
The daily menu of meeting via conference calls is ingrained in our corporate cultures. The opportunity is now to find ways, virtual and in person, to meet people to listen and learn. That’s right – listen a lot so that the other person can share their thoughts and ideas.
Ask yourself, how many times have you had a conversation with your boss, a co-worker, a friend or a family member and felt that person was not paying attention? Maybe you saw them playing with their phone or looking at their watch. Let’s get rid of the distraction. Everyone has a story to tell and wants to share and be heard. If you give them that courtesy, you get the same respect in return. Over time, you will develop more meaningful relationships.
You may want to take some extra steps to maintain these relationships. Take the time to email them after each conversation. If you follow them on social media, send the person well wishes on their birthdays or other important events. Of course, I’m a big believer that sending a handwritten note is a lost art and goes a long way. Since so few people ever do this, you can put a smile on someone’s face with a short, friendly note.
2. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
How can you remember someone’s name? Easy – treat their name like gold. Cherish it. Dale Carnegie wrote, “A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language to that person.” After hearing a new name, keep it in your head for a few more seconds. If you start talking about the weather right away, you’re unlikely to remember. You can even cheat — just by saying, “Shari! Nice to meet you and your doggy, Yo-yo. Okay, so I don’t forget, Shari, Yo-yo, Shari, Yo-yo.” You can even invent mnemonics or visuals for yourself, for example, “Shari, who wore a red T-shirt, likes strawberries and has stories she loves to share.” When you see Shari next week, one of these resources will pop up. to help you remember her name.
If you remember a person’s name, you show respect. You let them know that you value them as a person. Once you make a conscious effort to do this, you will see the magic happen. The next time you are with that person, you will see a noticeable difference if you greet them by name.
3. Listen more than you talk.
Here’s a relationship tip for business (or even marriage): If you make your partner’s happiness more important than your own, you will have a long and prosperous relationship. How do you do this? It starts with listening.
You must be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. When we listen to a loved one voice his or her problems, it’s very tempting to say, “You should be doing this instead…” In any relationship, you want to understand when the other person asks for your advice or you ask for listen.
To build that trust in a relationship, you may want to ask that simple question from the start. This prevents awkward moments when you lose sight of the power of active listening. Encourage people to talk about themselves and appreciate their ideas and insights. You may not agree with everything that person says, but you are sending a message that you are open and accepting. In turn, you will recognize its importance and show your sincerity by doing so.
Our workplace cultures are evolving. This is no time to use video calls and meetings to avoid getting in touch with our employees. Take the time to get to know your team members. Listen more closely so you can learn what they’re thinking. You will be pleasantly surprised by how well you are received – and what a more exciting workplace you create.