Twenty years ago, as a young student, I spent my university holidays doing an administration job by day and waitressing in the evenings. Neither were glamorous or particularly well paid, but I learnt a lot and worked for fantastic people. Despite having zero status, income so low the tax man took pity and a fairly demanding 65 plus hour week, I loved it.
Back in the 90s I'd never heard of coaching (outside of sport) or mentoring or communication skills or 360 degree feedback or appraisals or any other of the multitude of things which exist in business today. I was, however, reasonably well versed in the art of conversation - of engaging with someone else, building rapport, listening and being interested, asking questions, answering questions and being listened to.
My old bosses were simply brilliant at taking an interest - they learnt about me and me about them, I knew when I'd got something wrong or when I'd done a great job, they knew when I needed a hand and I felt able to ask. I was sad to leave them at the end of every holiday and they'd send me back to Devon with gin, pasta and a new notebook.
Today, as with almost everything, there's a multi-million pound industry waiting to help you talk to your workforce. You can learn techniques; how to ask questions, what to say to make people feel valued, how to influence, how to negotiate, how to give feedback, how best to deliver constructive criticism and on it goes. An endless list of ways to have a conversation. And in my opinion, that's exactly what most people want – an honest, engaging conversation. Not the sort that results in a box being ticked, but time where they feel listened to by someone who is genuinely interested in them.
So put down your phones, switch off your screens and get yourself to the pub. There's nowhere better to learn the decreasing art of conversation.
If you’d like to talk to us about your career, we’re here to listen – upload your details here to start a conversation.
0117 428 6388
07711 622 676
Skilling Gate Group Limited
St Nicholas House
31-34 High Street
Bristol BS1 2AW