What Will You Do When You Come Back to the Workplace

This is what it is all about. We can attend workshops, read, watch videos and reflect but it all comes down to putting it into action. We’re being told again and again to “get out of our comfort zone”. One of the new skills we are supposed to be working on is our presence and the 4 I’s:

  • Initiate
  • Inquire
  • Invest
  • Influence

When walking into a meeting or room where you don’t know someone, instead of pulling out your cellphone and reading e-mail, initiate contact. The first step, which can be the hardest, is simply sticking your hand out and saying “hi, I’m Patrice”.  Don’t leave it at that, inquire. This is something that needs to be practiced and some thought should be put into it. Don’t just ask questions, but ask meaningful questions. What do you really want to know about this person? What information would be helpful to you in building a relationship? Most importantly, invest. If you are asking questions but not actively invested and listening it will come across. When having a conversation you should only be focused on that. In our multi-tasking overworked world this can be especially hard. Working at building relationships will then enable you to influence. Don’t forget to practice your elevator speech. Be ready when somebody initiates with you!

At the first meeting I attended after our first session I felt I missed an opportunity to “put it into action”. I walked into a room where everyone knew each other and I didn’t know anyone. They were not engaged in conversation as they waited for the meeting to begin but sitting and reading their phones. While I think of myself as an outgoing person, I found it difficult to try and initiate a conversation with people focused on not conversing. If someone is busily reading e-mail are they: catching up on work and don’t want to be interrupted? Feeling uncomfortable and going to their phone to avoid conversation? Hoping that someone will approach them and start a conversation?

For me getting out of my comfort zone isn’t just about initiating conversation with people I don’t know but in situations where I am uncomfortable. This could be a meeting I’ve been invited to that is not directly in my area of expertise. As I reflect on how I interact in different situations I’ve realized that when I’m in a space that is not my “area of expertise” I am less comfortable speaking up and voicing my ideas and opinions. This quote shared in our MOR materials seems very appropriate:

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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