Have you ever found yourself surprised and frustrated by how a meeting, call, or conversation went? You may have thought what there was to accomplish and what would happen was clean-cut and obvious, only to be knocked off course by others’ ideas of how things should go. Or you are meeting with someone and you find yourself lethargic and bored by the direction the occasion takes, thinking “Why am I wasting my time here?” We have all found ourselves there now and then. The bigger question, is how do we turn things around so that we get back on course and reenergize ourselves and others to deliver what we are committed to?
Be Intentional About How You Will Show Up
An antidote for complacency and boredom or for our knee-jerk reaction to the unexpected is to create an intention. You cannot predict how conversations will go, but you can be prepared, and this begins with your intention. When you craft what you are committed to it can enable meetings and conversations even in the face of disagreements, the unexpected, and that little devil that may sit on your shoulder and judge what is happening rather than find solutions. This year, I have taken on a practice of bringing intervention to these happenings by prepping beforehand an intention for the meeting, for myself and others. I write down what may be my default conversation about the upcoming conversation. I ask myself, “What do I think is likely to happen even if it is negative?” Then, I create a stand or intention for the meeting. After the meeting, I document what was transformed as a result of creating an intention.
What It Looks Like To Be On or Off the Hook
I recently was interviewing a client who was beginning a leadership program. I showed up on time with my questions prepared, but without any intention for myself (how I would show up) nor for what I was committed to for the client. I found myself groggy and painfully waiting for the call to be over with. Another time, I showed up fully prepared for a development call with colleagues and found I was one of the only ones who had finished an assignment. The facilitator proceeded to coach the people who had not completed the assignment. At first, my ‘little devil’ was raging on my shoulder, spending my time on the call judging and lamenting that they were wasting my time. In both cases, I caught myself, thank goodness, and was able to turn around my participation by getting committed to something, rather than just being there reacting. For that group meeting, I created being curious and getting trained by the facilitator in how to coach people. The whole call changed at that moment for me. And, since I started participating differently, the call itself shifted to be more powerful for others. So, how I was showing up – in other words, putting myself on the hook through an intention, could actually make a positive difference in the meeting overall.
Plan, Create and then Dance
Obviously, things don’t always go as planned. This is not about preparing for others to fail or to be better than anyone. It is about planning, creating, and then dancing at the moment (figuratively, not literally) to have your calls and meetings and conversations experience breakthrough effectiveness. What that requires is you thinking through what you intend, what you are creating to have for yourself and others, and the meeting/call/project/conversation. It is a way of being that will allow you to be agile and retain your commitment no matter the dance partner.