Archives for posts with tag: interaction

Remote working, teleconferences, videoconferences, skype calls: they are the new norm, with many companies now embracing the idea of some of their staff working from home or satellite offices some of the time.

It’s very efficient too, for both parties, cutting down on overheads, time and travel, and reducing the effects of poor weather on schedules. You have to work harder to overcome the communication and confusion issues that can arise when you’re not in the same physical room as someone, but that’s OK.

However, to get the best out of working relationships, the absolute best, nothing beats face-to-face. You’ve got body language, facial expressions and the sheer presence of someone next to you on your side. If you want to sort out a disagreement, or clear a misunderstanding, get people together. When it comes to sales and marketing of products and services that carry a decent value, and a decent trust element, nothing beats seeing the whites of each other’s eyes.

It doesn’t have to be face-to-face all the time, simply once in a while will do it. Last month I caught up with 2 groups of people I’d been meaning to catch up with for a long time. Now we’ve met, we’re more front of mind for each other, the priorities have risen up the stack and we’re moving projects forward.

Like I say, even when or if we become used to hologram drop-ins and clone stand-ins, nothing will beat face-to-face.

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I’ve blogged before about how we learn a new language or adapt to the local language. First, we pick up the vocabulary associated with the language or the locality. Then we adopt the syntax, the word order or phrasing of the people we interact with. Finally, we pick up the accent itself, and start sound like – or something more approaching that of – the natives.

I think too that a lot depends on how much of a linguistic chameleon we are. Does the chameleon choose to adapt skin tones to the surroundings, or is it subconscious, an automatic thing it has no control over?

After 11 years straight in the same country, I’m starting to properly lose the engrained English accent and take on the accent of Irish-English speakers. For some people it might happen earlier, for some it might almost never happen. How many people have you met who’ve been living in a foreign country for twenty years and still speak with a hugely noticeable foreign accent? Some of them must not want to change, some of them must be incapable of it.

There’s a strong element of consciousness to how quickly we adapt to the language or accent of the place that is not native to us. It says a lot about us as people. Do we want to stand out as different? Do we want to fit in, empathise, be one of them, because it’s good to make an effort but also makes it easier to get things in our favour? Or do we not care either way?

Sometimes, in business and in life, you’re slightly ‘off your game’. You’re not quite there, you can’t put it together, the muscle and brain memory is not firing right for you. It’s a tough rut to get out of, without doing a reboot or calling it quits and sleeping on it.

In sport it’s easier to see when you’re slightly off your game, because it’s pretty binary. It’s either in or out, a hit or a miss. You either win the point or you lose it, win the match or lose it, pretty much.

I was reminded of this the other day when I was playing table tennis. I used to play competitively for many years and am currently getting back into it more regularly after a decade and a half on the side lines. The other day was one of those days when I was slightly off my game, and at a certain level of ability the margins are so small. The ball was clipping the edge of my bat a lot, rather than hitting the sweet spot, because my timing was slightly off and I couldn’t get either my conscious or subconscious mind co-ordinate the hundred or so muscles in quite the right way.

The ball was also missing the table by small margins, and hitting the top of the net a lot. With table tennis, the ball is maybe a quarter of the height of the net, so you get a lot of shots hitting the net cord, compared with tennis or badminton. When you’re sightly off your game, you hit the top of the net a lot, and the ball either comes back on your side, or dribbles over the other side, or else sits up for the other player to crush past you. Either way, it’s really hard for both players to establish any kind of rhythm.

A couple per cent degradation in your execution and the result is maybe 20% worse, easily the difference between winning comfortably and losing comfortably. Frustrating.

I know you either win a deal or lose it, and a lead either becomes an opportunity or it doesn’t, but business, projects and sales cycles feel a lot less binary to me. If you’re slightly off your game, you don’t necessarily get direct feedback from a prospect or customer. You don’t necessarily know that a specific campaign hasn’t converted a specific individual, or that your answer to a sales objection has been answered satisfactorily.

All you can do then is go back to the data and study the statistics over a larger number of similar circumstances rather than an isolated, specific interaction. And work hard all the time to reduce the occasions when you’re slightly off your game.

Beware the time-waster. The person that wastes your time, not theirs. They are the scourge of modern society.

We all know them. We see them at work or at play, they are everywhere. The most heinous individual – barring the bully or the abuser of any kind – is the time-waster. They suck the life-force out of you. They rob you of the most most precious resource you have. They don’t value your time.

The time-waster is the person who can’t see or or doesn’t care┬áthat they’re clearly taking up too much of your time. They love to talk, they love to unload. They can’t make their point quickly, succinctly, pointedly. They hog the oxygen at meetings, holding forth yet coming up with nothing of consequence or action. They are often shirkers, stallers, avoiders, prevaricators.

You see, you do know them.

Don’t suffer fools gladly. Be direct. Cut them off. Move on.

And what if they do that to you? Well, examine thyself. Either you’re a time-waster and you need to improve your interactions, or you’re not, in which case you need to find another way.