Dreaded Conversations…And Avoiding Being One Yourself

two-women-talking_2Slydial is the app that lets you go straight to voicemail, safe from the possibility that someone might actually answer your call.

One reason Slydial exists is because of the energy vampires in the world. Those people you dread talking to because they leave you depleted, bummed out, frustrated, or annoyed with every conversation. However hopeful you remain, they will figure out how to suck the energy from the conversation. Sure, maybe you use Slydial because you just don’t have the time for a conversation and texting would get lost in translation. But I don’t think that’s the biggest reason it’s so popular.

One of the greatest predictors of your effectiveness, happiness, and success in your work is your capacity to be an energizer, instead of an energy vampire. According to Rob Cross at the University of Virginia, your ability to create energy in the workplace, and with your colleagues around you, is more powerful a predictor of your success over other criteria, including your function, title, department, expertise, seniority, knowledge, intelligence… These are all descriptors. Creating energy is a behavior, and it can be learned.

Think about that for a second, and then ask yourself, “When people leave an interaction with me, do they leave feeling more or less energized?

Here are a few ways you can make sure you create and magnify energy, instead of draining those around you:

Energizers are present
Creating energy does not require you be an extrovert. It does not mean you need to jump up and down, or stand on a chair and cheer, or high-five your colleagues. It simply means you possess the ability to see opportunities as others describe them, and reiterate those ideas back in a way that conveys you truly understood them.

Energizers open possibilities
Energizers possess the ability to ask provocative questions that open up possibilities and encourage pursuit of action. It means being present and engaged in each conversation. It means building contagious enthusiasm in a constructive way, with emotional fluency. Opening possibilities is about giving those around you the creative latitude to explore ideas that perhaps fall outside of usual organizational boundaries.

Energizers follow through
When we get enthusiastic about something it can be infectious. But remember the difference between enthusiasm and action. There’s nothing more de-energizing than walking away from a meeting feeling fired-up, work diligently on a shared vision, then only to return and find your colleague hasn’t done anything. Energizers follow through on their promises, and consistently demonstrate do-ability of a project by actively contributing.

Energizers add value instead of topping others
I’m sure you have been in a meeting before in which an idea is tossed around. And each person in turn, is trying to outdo the others to look smarter. This is not adding value, this is called topping someone else. This behavior is when you try to sound smarter and more important than someone else and begin to compete, instead of contributing to the conversation. So when someone says, “We went to New York for our vacation.” And then you say, “Oh, we went to Spain.” That’s not building value, that’s trying to top someone else’s contribution.

Energizers use supportive questions
A supportive assertion is when you say, “That’s great!” or “So cool. Love it!” But a supportive question encourages and deepens the conversation. So the next time someone mentions they went to New York for a vacation trying asking, “Wow, that sounds wonderful. What was the most exciting part of the trip for your family?”