On my way home from a leadership seminar yesterday, I was faced with train chaos. The train staff just announced it was country-wide. Once in a train that was actually able to travel, I asked the ticket collector what was going on. After a bit of squirming, he explained that the central computer in Berlin had crashed and trains and stations were not able to download their routes and seating plans. In addition, the crash took out the online ticketing system and the ability to accept electronic payment. Major league chaos!
It reminded me of a sequence from the just finished workshop, in which a participant wanted to investigate how she could encourage her staff to give her more feedback. She selected another member of the group to stand-in for one of her staff and we pre-played the scene where she asks for feedback.
On the first run-through, she got straight to the point and her voice had an edge to it that evoked fear, discomfort and guilt in the other person. We “rewound the tape”, to that she could start the conversation again. She took a moment to rethink her approach. As she did this, I noticed how her breathing deepened and slowed.
The second time through, she opened with a couple of sentences of small talk that helped establish rapport. Then, when she made her request, it was in a clear,friendly and self-confident tone. Her hand gestures played out in front of her stomach. All signs were there that she was in her Gut Center, the home of clear and present communication. On this run-through the stand-in reckoned they were just having a normal conversation and felt comfortable enough to give feedback. At the next workshop I’ll hear how it worked out for real.
If only the Deutsche Bahn could stay in contact with its Gut Center!