A brilliant post from Rands today that has broad applicability beyond managing in the tech industry.
When stuck with “marginal” meetings that don’t have apparent value going into them, Rands says he takes this approach:
The marginal meeting. It needs to be there, so I must figure out an angle to increase the value. I’ve got one hack that works consistently: assume they have something to teach you.
We would all be better off to take such a gracious, humble approach with those that we meet.
It is my personal and professional responsibility to bring as much enthusiasm, curiosity, and forward momentum to every single minute of my day. When I find myself in a situation where the value is not obvious, I seek it because it’s always there.
“Hi, Cathy. How do you know Ray? Interesting. How’d you two end up working together in such different parts of the company? No way. I never imagined that legal and engineering would end up working together on that? Tell me that story.”
With three questions, I’ve found a story that will teach a lesson.
A wonderful saint I used to serve on a deacon board with (who has since gone on to glory) modeled this principle for me. Even as a senior citizen, he daily approached young people (as our local director of Youth for Christ) and drew them in with this same approach. Ask questions. “Tell me your story.” Listen intently. Care.
Whether you’re a tech manager or just a person meeting other people on a daily basis, there’s a lot here to be learned.