How You Interact is a Choice

March 24, 2019
Mary Jo Asmus

It’s all too easy to interact with others without thinking about the impact you have on them, and what that means for your success and that of your organization. You can be on automatic in your interactions without thinking about whether they harm or help your ability to lead people. It’s harder, but important, to be intentional about how you communicate so that it can engage others and allow you to lead with ease.

Have you considered that the small, everyday things you do when you interact can have a negative or positive impact on you and your organization? Let’s take a peek behind the curtain of what negative and positive interactions you can have every day that might have an effect on your ability to lead.

Negative Ways of Interacting

Negative ways of interacting erode the relationships that are most important to collective success. Everyday ways of interacting that can erode trusting relationships may include:

Allowing Distraction

Those who work with and for you will thrive on your ability to stay present and focused on them. When you allow yourself to slip into distraction, they can receive the impression that you don’t care about them, resulting in less interaction that is effective and important. Although there are plenty of things to distract you, resist it, and be intentional about turning to others when they need your attention.

Engaging in Hearsay

There is nothing more disappointing than leaders who permit themselves to spread gossip or hearsay. You know that “meeting after the meeting” when you talk about someone in an unfavorable way or make assumptions out loud about things that are none of your business? It damages you as much (or more) as it damages the person you speak of. Put away the assumptions you make and start fresh and without judgment and see what a difference it makes in your relationships.

Expressing One-Upmanship

It’s tempting in our business and corporate hierarchies to want to represent ourselves as better than others, and “on top” of things. While it may briefly make you feel good, over the long haul this behavior damages relationships and your reputation. It frustrates others while at the same time spreads the behavior throughout the organization and can create an unhealthy culture of competition.

Positive Ways of Interacting

Positive ways of interacting build up your relationships and contribute to the success of your organization. Everyday ways of interacting that build trusting relationships include:

Being Fully Present

Nothing says you care more than to be fully present to those who need your attention. It’s a sign of respect to focus on those you guide in doing the work you need done every day. This means that you ask them what they need, develop them and help them grow, and forget about yourself for a while. Providing your full attention to others will have a bigger impact than you can imagine.

Voicing Your Appreciation

People who work in your organization want to know what they are doing well. In this world of criticism and feedback, be the leader who stands out from the crowd by expressing your appreciation. Consciously look for what others are doing well, and then let them know what you observed. Tell them thank you at every opportunity, letting them know how grateful you are for the work they do.

Listening More Than Talking

Listening better and deeper seems like such a small thing, but intentional listening with your ears as well as your heart will go a long way toward building respect and trust into your organization. One way to measure whether you are on the right track toward listening more is to assure that you are listening more than talking. Listening deeply will go further than almost any other act you can imagine to show others that you value them.

Stop being on automatic in your interactions. Sometimes the smallest things you do in communication with others make all the difference. Choose carefully how you will interact because your choices can make a difference, for better or worse, to your leadership.

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Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small-sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.

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