The man was looking me in the eyes as I explained the situation to him but his eyes told me he was miles away. He was not present in our conversation even though he was standing right in front of me. Where was he? Was he still in the meeting that just ended? Was he thinking about his next appointment? Perhaps he was mentally checking his to-do list to see what was next. Or maybe he was wishing he was on the beach in Cancun. He obviously was not interested in my dilemma.
“Oh, what are your potential solutions? Can you tell me again?” and thus the conversation required me to use precious time re-explaining the problem and the proposed solution in order to gain approval to move ahead.
How many times has this happened to you in the last week? How many times have you been guilty of this behavior yourself?
Charismatic leaders train their minds to be present and alert in conversations and discussions. They exist in the present moment and use all of their faculties to get a grip on the context and meaning of the conversation or discussion they have chosen to be part of by entering into dialog with another party. They concentrate and refuse to let their mind wander when they feel bored or wish the person were not so wordy and would get to the point.
Being present and alert saves precious time and shows respect to the other person in the conversation. A savvy, charismatic leader looks the other individual in the eye and gives ab occasional nod or “Ahhhh, I see” to show they are listening. They use backtracking techniques and ask intelligent, clarifying questions. When the person has finished, the savvy leader gives the best on-the-spot solution they can. If they need more time to think about the problem, they make an appointment for a few days later giving them time to study the issue and be prepared for a more in-depth discussion.
Let’s pretend you have just visited Costa Rica and you are having lunch with a colleague.