Posts Tagged ‘listening’

Do the Hard Work of Emotional Labor

Problem:

Some manager mandates that everyone under his responsibility must do certain things a certain way.

Solution:

The reason managers do this is because they can.  They have the power and authority to tell anyone reporting to them to do a certain thing.  But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.

This is the old ‘I own you’ mentality.  But managers ought to think of those who report to them as volunteer workers, because they are.  Do you own your customers?  Do you tell them what to do?  No, you offer something valuable that they want.  You try to persuade them that what you have is better than the competition.

How much more real power and influence would a manager have if everyone who worked for him really wanted to work for him because he was a better manager than all the others?  What if some direction or announcement from a manager was as anticipated and exciting as the launch of a new product from Apple?

How would that happen?  The manager has to put in the emotional labor of connecting with his people, finding out what their inner desires are, catering to their every need.  He must allow them to take the responsibility of making choices on their own.

Emotional labor is hard work.  It takes connecting with people at a human level, understanding them, listening to them, relating with them.  Finding out what makes them tick, and helping them accomplish their goals.

Yes, it takes a little more effort, but it’s actually easier these days with the new social tools.  You just have to know how to use them.  They don’t call them ‘social’ for nothing.

If you’re not a manager, you can still do the hard work of emotional labor.  You can do it for your team and report to the manager what you know.  You can help out your team by connecting and giving people the opportunity to share their real feelings.

Most people just want to be understood, and feel that they matter.  That takes emotional work, because you’re dealing with a human being and their feelings, not a cog in a machine.

Mandates might work for cogs, but they don’t work well for talented, passionate human beings.

Mix Up Your Meetings – part 2 (The Talking Stick)

Problem:

Your meetings are dominated by a few people who talk a lot, and there’s not a lot of listening going on.

Solution:

Use an ancient Native American tradition called “the talking stick.”

How it works is that you have some kind of decorative stick (or it could be a ball, bean bag, or bobblehead, doesn’t matter, just some kind of ‘thing’) and whoever is holding the stick has the floor to talk.  No one else can talk, they just have to listen.  When the person with the stick is done talking, they offer it up to the group and whoever wants to talk next will take the stick.  A person can keep it as long as they want, but they can’t abuse the power, if they are stingey with it and talk for too long, people are going to stop listening to them.

This helps your meeting be more controlled, relaxed, and eliminates people talking over each other and not listening.  After using the stick a few times, people will begin to pick up the habit, and they’ll start listening to each other more, even without the stick.

Is this something that might work for you?  Do you have one of those meetings in mind where you could really use something like this?

Just try it.