- How to be the change you want to see in your meeting
By Kyle Hermans
It was 5:07pm on a Friday afternoon in a colorful agency loft in Chicago. We were packing up at the end of a successful weeklong session solving complex challenges with our client. A man strode over to our team and said:
- “This was one of the most collaborative gatherings I have ever experienced. Thank you.”
- “It felt like we all had your team’s undivided attention, and that you all listened to every word we had to say.”
- “You created a safe, open space for us to share anything we wanted without feeling judged or put down—and look what we accomplished together. We’ve never done that before.”
- “What did you study to gain the ability to get people to open up and share their ideas, thoughts and feelings with you like that?”
So where do you learn to do that? After six years working with fifty plus global brands across seventeen countries in sixty cities with more air miles than I care to count later, l put it down to one simple concept: CLIMATE! And I learnt these ways of interacting with others by following the simple instructions of the remarkable body of knowledge called Synectics.
What is Climate?
Climate is the energy, space, field, conditions and set of attitudes that prevail while humans interact with each other physically, virtually, mentally or metaphysically, creating conditions that lead to either great or not-so-great outcomes. Climate is the key to unlocking limitless creative potential between people.
A person’s creative ability and expression live on the razor’s edge between empowerment and oppression. The lightest of breezes can either elevate you into life-changing, collaborative creative highs or knock you falling into a bottomless spiral of discount-revenge and creative blockages.
Who is Climate?
You, me, others, and the space we all occupy when we are together and when we are apart.
How do we affect Climate?
What we think and the words we speak are like our internal weathermen, forecasting and creating our climate and weather conditions and advising us how we are to respond or react when we interact with others. They create our reality as much as how we act when being physically present in a space with others.
Life is a series of meetings and conversations, and climate is the platform on which their success rests, what kind of climate would you want to have as you navigate through your days? We have the ability to be like a sunny day as easily as we can create hail and rain. We also have the ability to turn a rainy day into a sunny one. The core is that we are responsible for our own climate.
Some ways you can manage and model your own climate:
- Show up with an open, collaborative mind. Be open to learning and sharing new ideas and thoughts as well as receiving and nurturing others’ ideas and thoughts.
- Be mindful of the language you use. The language we use can give permission to ourselves and others to share and build ideas or shut them down. You can radically shift collaboration and outcomes to the positive by turning a “yes, but” sentence into a “yes, and” sentence or adding things like “what you could do is…” and “building on that idea….” to your vocabulary.
- Be mindful of your body language and your tone. How we say things can be more important than what we say. Our words are the spoken message; our tones, gestures and non-verbals are the expression of these words—and often the most important component in how our message comes across.
- Presume positive intent. Walking into every conversation and meeting with the idea that whatever we experience comes from a place of positive intent automatically opens space for more collaboration, greater ¬understanding and better communication.
- Stay naïve and listen more. Go into each meeting and conversation with the idea you are going to hear something for the first time that can be a valuable resource to you. I guarantee you will begin to listen to others differently and show up with great climate. We are given two ears and one mouth to listen more and speak less. Collaboration and trust is built on how we show up to support and listen to each other.
Remember what Gandhi says: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” My personal adaptation of his powerful message is, “Be the climate you want to experience in the world.”
Kyle Hermans is the Senior Director of Innovation Capacity of Gap Inc. Global, and former head of Synecticsworld’s West Coast office.