Giving people some space…to talk!

So I’ve been thinking a lot about this today. Why? Well, for one I spent over 6 hours in meetings today. For another, many of those meetings were meant for me to try and convey a point while also eliciting feedback on whatever it was I happened to be proposing.

That can be a really hard thing to do. Those of you who might be experts at this already, I’m sure you’re laughing at me. Well, I’m still young so I have time to learn this fine art. And what an art I’m beginning to appreciate it for.

You see, I’ve always known this, but it’s just now starting to really sink in. I’m sure being married, having a kid, and trying to raise a family while also working on moving forward with my career have helped with this. Or perhaps it’s just that time in my life; but, whatever the case, it’s starting to sink in. I’ve known that other people have opinions and that those opinions, like my own, should be expressed. The part I haven’t realized until perhaps even today is exactly how difficult it can be to let someone express those opinions (or several people at once) while still attempting to get you opinion out there.

I’m also beginning to realize that managing people involves cooperating with them at a much higher level than I had previously realized. Well, again, maybe I’d realized it…I just hadn’t experienced it until recently.

The world of IT is certainly full of opinions and most of them (there are rare exceptions of course) are well thought out and accurate. Yet, somehow, we have to work together to make those opinions turn into a particular direction we should head. That “somehow” part is the tricky part (it always is). How do you give someone space to talk while you keep thinking, “Man, this isn’t where I wanted this meeting to head…!”

Bottom line, you have to listen. And I mean really listen. Think about what the other person is saying rather than how much you’d rather them say something else. I’ve heard so many people respond to someone with something that’s completely unrelated to what the other person just said. Why? Because the person who responded wasn’t listening to the person who was just talking. Instead, they heard about 5 words of a 5 minute thought and already had their response worked up. What’s wrong with silence for a moment while everyone collects their thoughts? Is control of the conversation really worth the cost of not listening to someone else? Wouldn’t it be better to hear their opinions out rather than just trying to be the one who talks the most? I’m definitely guilty of this and I’m sure I will still be guilty of it throughout my life well beyond this post. But that doesn’t mean I won’t think about it a bit more.

Yeah, this post is pretty random. Just thinking out loud and trying to remind myself to let other people have a chance to express themselves. Now I just have to learn how to control and channel that into a productive meeting without necessarily speaking more than everyone else.


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