Steps to Management Success – Step 17: Look People in the Eye

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 31st, 2010


Look People in the Eye

E-mail, intranets, faxes, voice mail. They’re fine for accelerating the transfer of factual information. But when your communication involves any emotion at all or expresses a different opinion, a face-to-face meeting is by far your best bet, with a traditional, interactive, phone conversation a distant second choice. Even the popular term for such meetings, face-to-face, suggests an immediacy that no e-mail or phone call can match.

WHAT IT MEANS: As we get more efficient at communicating facts electronically, we tend to forget how much emotion we convey through body language and voice tone. For example, when a person uses words to disagree with someone else, their tone, posture, smile, and eye contact may at the very same time be saying, “I value and respect your opinion and enjoy working with you . . . even though I disagree with you on this point.”

On a group level, participative meetings give people a feeling that their opinion can be heard, and that it counts—a lot.

ACTION PLAN: Try to avoid meetings “on the fly” unless absolutely necessary. By notifying people as to when a meeting is scheduled and what will be on the agenda, you give them more time to prepare their presentation—and perhaps even to walk into the meeting with more accomplished or more to add.

EVEN BETTER: Have regularly scheduled meetings with your key managers or the members of your team. This can help keep everyone on the same page, build a productive and well-motivated team, and help you gain the benefit of various perspectives. Also, when praising or criticizing someone individually, try to do so in person.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

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