We are lucky to have several interns this summer who are bright, creative and resourceful. It is important that they know how to create conversations and engage people. To work for The Professional Development Group it is not a requirement that a person already be a gifted conversationalist - it is expected that they want to learn how to create meaningful conversations.
Their first assignment was to write a white paper about the importance of Chit Chat, Small Talk & Relationship Building. I gave them some examples to weave in, and asked them to collaborate with each other to create something they would be proud of. I initially explained that the finished product could be co-written by the three of us. The interns each wrote what they wanted into the paper, submitted it to each other once or twice, and then the paper came back to me. Then in our weekly team meeting, I shared that I was taking my name off of it so that it could be their work - they evolved the ideas on their own. I also said that it would be published the following week attached in this Conversation Tips newsletter.
At this point in this fast paced meeting, Angela had the clarity to say, "When I originally worked on this I saw it as coming from you, Shawn, with your voice. Now that you are taking your name off of it, and it is going to represent me, I want to re-work it so my voice comes through in it more clearly. I need more time with it."
I immediately replied, "Of course, please feel free to re-work it. I want it to represent you both!" I want Angela's voice to be her own, authentic, strong and capable. Even if it means our agreed to timeline for producing the paper will be thrown off slightly. It is important to me that Angela is respected. Our time line was created arbitrarily; Angela's voice was not. For each of our interns giving them a sense of their own voice will enable them to develop as people and as professionals.
As I reflected on this conversation later, I am grateful that Angela had the courage and the clarity to say this to me. She is collaborating with me! She does not have me on the "boss" pedestal causing her to blindly defer to me. She is thinking for herself and is willing to share what she realizes even if it is not what I might want to hear at that moment. Creativity and innovation can bubble up from this type of conversation.
The courage it takes to have our own voices depends on whether or not our voice has been respected, honored and appreciated. Some people squash others unknowingly. Sadly some people squash others knowingly. I want to be a person who celebrates a clear voice that is full of integrity, growth, passion, and that lifts people up to be the best they can be. I think that is part of developing our future leaders. Do you agree?
By encouraging Angela to write her voice into the white paper more clearly we all win.
By encouraging my colleagues, clients, and team to make the time to be clear on what they really want next and to leave the door open to collaborate together - we all win. We are lifted up into a higher level of clarity about what it means to live our best lives.
That is a meaningful conversation!
Do you have a young person you are developing this summer? Would you like to explore being a mentor to someone you know? If so, share the Chit Chat, Small Talk & Relationship Building white paper to inspire new conversation. You'll find it attached just in time for summer interns and backyard barbecues where you have the opportunity to create new conversations!
Hope you are enjoying this summer!