Thursday, September 28, 2017

Build Stronger Relationships With the One-on-One

Damond Nollan and Brandi Matthews

"Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued." ~ Brene Brown

The gentleman sat quietly in one of the two black chairs that faced my desk. He arrived moments earlier for our regular face-to-face powwow, which we hold every other Thursday. In his hand, he came prepared with a medium sized electronic tablet that he carried for all his business meetings. Instead of sitting squarely in front of me, he turned both his chair and handheld device at an angle.

Once he got settled, he flipped open the front cover of his tablet and set it up on its side like it was a laptop. The flap transformed into a bluetooth keyboard with a stand for his screen. In his left hand, he carried in a large coffee mug that he later placed near the edge of the desk.

In the background, I heard the small box heater circulating air into the room. It was set on high for both the temperature and fan speed, but despite all its effort, there was still an overpowering chill that consumed any heat the machine produced.

In an attempt to get started, he began our session with a question, "What do I need to know?" I in turn asked him the same. "What do I need to know?" From there, we spent the next 90 minutes talking back and forth about recent tasks, strategies for future development, personal observations, and erroneous assumptions. By the end of the discussion, I felt both energized and optimistic.   

After the meeting, he packed up his device, thanked me for the talk, and walked out with the door closing behind him. "What just happened?" I asked myself. "I think we just found a perfect example of why the one-on-one is so important." I responded. 

In writing that, I have to explain that I wasn't a big fan of the one-on-one meeting. Honestly, they always felt a bit awkward and unnatural. Sure, we can talk about tasks and projects, but with so many meetings during the week, I felt these topics were more than covered. 

What changed my mind was when I noticed team members were getting frustrated, impatient, or even upset about situations at work. I found that when we made time to talk about real issues and honest feelings, everyone left the conversations feeling better. It was as if the weight of the world had just been lifted from their shoulders. 

While I've described one example of a professional one-on-one, I can just as easily offer this idea for one's personal life as well. The important part of the conference, in my opinion, is that we come together with purpose. At work, we schedule our meetings and make them a priority. The same should be done at home. There should be no distractions, which means we have to leave our televisions and mobile phones off. Remember, the time we are about to spend is focused entirely on us. 

From personal experience, I found that two people engaging in a deep dialog to be suitable and extremely beneficial for romantic relationships, coworkers, children, parents, siblings, business partners, and just about anyone that you deem important. If you value the connection, the one-on-one is a perfect fit. 

Another tip to consider is scheduling the conference on a regular basis. Instead of waiting until things are bad, consider using the routine meeting to maintain and strengthen ties. Knowing that we have a set day and time to talk allows us the opportunity to gather our thoughts and come prepared.

If I had things to do all over again, I would have made the one-on-one a staple in all areas of my life. Yes, it's simple in nature, but it's extremely powerful, too. 

As we go into this day, let's take a moment to prioritize those most important relationships in our lives and find the time to simply connect with one another. Be great today!

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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