03 December 2007

The Best Advice I Ever Received: Don't baulk at small talk!

By Galia BarHava-Monteith

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.

GLOW_PROFESSIONELLE_ (15).jpgSo, 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 managers' time.

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 time?"

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 colleagues."

To this day, I go over my e-mails to soften my straight-to-the point introductions and show that courtesy.

 

© Professionelle Ltd 2007

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