Starting my professional working life
as a junior strategic consultant was up there with some of the most
stressful times in my life. I constantly felt inadequate and that I
was going to be 'found out' at any moment.
So, to over compensate, I adopted the
'no-nonsense-straight-to-the-point-totally-focused' persona. Partly
because I felt that it was how young professionals should conduct
themselves, and partly because I really was loathe to waste
In every meeting I had with my managers, I would dive straight
into the issue at hand, rattling through my facts and figures and
findings in the most time-efficient, no-nonsense way possible.
About six months in, a very wise, highly respected manager
stopped me in my tracks and said, "Before you launch in, just
take a breath. Ask me how my weekend was, how my family is, just
indulge in some small talk."
In amazement I asked, "But wouldn't that waste your
And he said something that has always stayed with me, "You
would do well to treat people as a whole and take the courtesy to
show some interest in them as individuals not just as work
To this day, I go over my e-mails to soften my straight-to-the
point introductions and show that courtesy.
© Professionelle Ltd 2007