Friday, 31 May 2013

Feel the love...

In at number four on the thinking environment components is Appreciation.

Put away your bear hugs for a minute though, let's explore first...Appreciation is all about showing a genuine acknowledgement for the others person's qualities, not necessarily a big love-in.  I realise it can mean a bit of digging deep in some cases, but stay with me for now.

Cast your mind back to the last time someone acknowledged your qualities...
- how did it feel?
- what did you do afterwards?
- how did your thinking change?

It might be a bit more of a spring in your step, a bigger smile or a bit more confidence, but there will have been a reaction. Those warm and fuzzy feelings feel good don't they?  Nancy shares that a ratio of 5:1 appreciation:criticism is the Rolls Royce to aim for.  I'm usually someone who is against ratios and targets like that, but I can see where she's coming from - let the good out way the bad.

Those nice feelings will help with free flowing thinking, getting people to keep positive and ultimately have brilliant quality thinking. So, next time you're with someone ask yourself, have you taken the opportunity to show your genuine appreciation?

This one kind of does exactly what it says on the tin so slightly short and sweet...bear hugs back out now.

Happy smiling x

Easy does it...

Up next in a thinking environment is 'Ease'.

Have you ever felt un-nerved when you're talking to someone because you're not in a comfortable environment, felt rushed or pressured?  How did you react to it?  Did you begin to rush your message or cut it short?  No matter what the reaction I bet you weren't at your best when you were talking.  Now imagine if you'd have been given quality focused time where you didn't have to rush...what would have happened then?

The timing...
I remember being young and playing various make believe games, and dragging whoever was around into said games.  When that person was a grown up I'd have their co-operation for about 15 minutes before they'd gently say to 'ok Char, just 2 more minutes'.  My bottom lip would be straight out, I wasn't at the end of my game and I was going to have to cut it short.  I now see it from their point of view that I was probably make them play at being a zoo animal, supermarket customer or school child when they probably had a million other things to do.  However, as well as the bottom lip I'd immediately cut the game short no matter what stage we were at (and usually only just beginning, my games lasted a while) and feel really quite deflated.

A bit of a throw back example but the principles are the same - cut someone short and they'll feel a bit put out and lose their creative juices. 

A more up to date experience and one you might recognise is when people come into a meeting (or something equivalent) and say they've only got 10 minutes when we've blocked out half an hour.  You rush your message, miss a load of things and don't get a quality discussion.

Keep in mind the next occassion you're talking to someone - if you have the time, give it up to them.  If you don't then be up front but find an opportunity when you really can have a quality conversation together.

The environment...
Picture the scene...a busy-ish corridor and someone has collared you to catch up about a pressing project.  How do you feel having that conversation?  It can be really off putting if there's lots of noise going on around you so suddenly the great opportunity someone has seized to talk to you becomes a confusing conversation full of distractions.

It's not always possible but the next time you head for a catch up with someone think about the location - you can't always have natural light and fresh air, but don't let the coffee queue be the default location.

So, to round off this post here's the killer question - are you doing everything in your power to put people at ease?

Happy Friday xx

Saturday, 25 May 2013

A relationship of equals...

The next component in a thinking environment is 'Equality'.

Do you work in a company that thrives (and manipulates) on a hierarchy culture/operating model?  What does that hierarchy mean?  Is it grounded in financial reward, specialist knowledge or length of service?  How does it affect everybody that works there?

Hierarchy can cause a big barrier when it comes equality, and it's really only human nature - but that's why we need a bit of nurture thrown in for good measure.  Those at the top of the hierarchy earning a pretty penny should be there for a reason, and they are likely to be the best person for that job because of their knowledge, judgement, influence, skill...the list could go on (although there are some examples where this isn't true!).  So what goes through their head then when they're having a discussion with someone more junior?  Do they let them have more opportunity, less opportunity or the same amount of opportunity to input?  If your answer is anything other than 'the same', I know what your thought process would have been. However, consider for a moment what it would look like if they were given equal time and opportunity - not hushed because they were more junior or in fact given more time because it's a chance to shine in front of someone more senior...

I think the result would be quite stark.  Give someone an equal footing and they will shine - not because of the brilliant opportunity but because they are being treated as a person and an individual.  Their input will come thick and fast, and most importantly they will feel appreciated and like they have genuinely earned their place in the room rather than someone taking pity on them.

So, the next time you're heading into a meeting or a conversation with someone ask yourself -
- have I treated that person as an equal?
- How can I remove any pre-judgement I have in my head about why they aren't my equal?
- If it's me that isn't being treated as an equal, how can I get my voice heard?
- How can I remove any thoughts in my own head that I'm not an equal to the person opposite me?

The key to this will be unpicking the pre-judgement you have in either situation.  Find a way to work through that because you'll probably find a good chunk of the reasons are irrational!

Happy equalising xx