Who’s Here? What Do You Really Know About Someone Else?

Named by Inc. as one of the top 100 leadership speakers, Shelley Row, P.E., is an engineer and former government and association executive. Shelley’s leadership work focuses on developing insightful leaders who can see beyond the data.

Have you heard of the enneagram? There are nine different types of people according to this system, which helps one understand the way people think, feel, and act in relation to the world, others, and themselves. What if we thought about what type of person we were interacting with at any given point in time? How about what’s going on in their lives? Or, who’s here?

My step-daughter, Linnea Miron, is the CEO of Real Wellness.  She and I talked about the challenges of truly understanding people – whether staff, clients, or partners – so that we more effectively work together. But the brain is designed to see the world from our perspective. It takes effort and energy to consider another’s viewpoint. She shared that her husband Ricky Williams, when working with a client, uses a simple technique to coax his brain to shift perspective. With each person, he asks himself, “Who’s here?”

Think about the simple power in that question. Try it yourself. With each person you work with, you can divide “Who’s here?” into four parts.

Try exploring the power in, “Who’s here?” It gets you out of the way so that you can truly see the person right in front of you for who they are.

SHELLEY ROW

What do you know about their life at this moment? This question helps you become more resonate with and sensitive to the factors influencing their thinking and behavior. For example, tomorrow I’ll see my friend, Page, for the first time since she visited her son at college. Their visit is likely to have left her heart full. That’s a good place to start. Maybe the person you talk with has recently changed jobs, has a new (awful) boss, gotten a promotion, was out with a sick baby, is leading a high-profile project, has a daughter leaving for college, just lost her beloved pet. Take a moment to ask yourself, “Who’s here and what’s happening in his life right now?” It shows your interest and creates a connection which generates trust.

What do you know about their background? The more you know about a person’s background the better you understand the filters through which she sees the world. Awareness of background influences provides insight into reactions, interpretations and pre-conceived ideas. For example, growing up in a small Texas town surrounded by farms, I struggle to understand the pressures of city dwellers just as they may struggle to understand the tragedy of drought. Who’s here? What’s their background and how does it influence their behavior?

What do you know about their personality? Going back to enneagrams, you can use what you know of your own type as well as others’ to think about how you would then relate. What do you know about his communication style? Her work styles or nature? Maybe he is a big-picture thinker, or maybe he loves knowing the details. Maybe she has a healthy ego or struggles with self-esteem. Maybe he takes pride in his work, is highly sensitive, is the life-of-the-party, is practical, or is a deep thinker. The list goes on. Here’s the dilemma, your brain wants him or her to be like YOU! But they aren’t. The more you appreciate who’s really here, the more you are likely to adapt your style and align the jobs with their skills.

What do you know about their interests? This one may be easier for you. What are their hobbies? How does she spend her time? Perhaps he has a New England Patriots poster in his office or a photo of a sailboat. Is there a Food and Wine magazine in her bag? Knowing something about her interests can provide a foothold for an easy conversation starter. Who’s here and what does he enjoy?

Try exploring the power in, “Who’s here?” It gets you out of the way so that you can truly see the person right in front of you for who they are. 

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