Lunch, and learn

I connected over lunch with my colleague Gord today and, as often happens, I was reminded how much I am still learning. In my 25-plus years of working, I have mastered a certain skillset — communications, writing, analysis, planning, synthesis, etc. — that I leverage every day, whether in my former role as a communications advisor or my current one leading change.

But I still have so many opportunities to develop as a person and a colleague.

We were talking about what we both feel is an essential quality in a good colleague. It's a trait that has to be present, we agreed, if someone is going to be able to grow on the job. It is an essential soft-skill for an increasingly cross-functional and agile world of work. It's a characteristic that balances the counter-productive desire to point the finger and blame others when something goes wrong. 

It's curiosity

Personally, I have grown the most when I got curious. 

I had a big professional "growth spurt" about 3 years ago, when I got some feedback on my otherwise solid performance that I was rubbing some people the wrong way. I intentionally set up time with people I knew had feedback for me, and colleagues where things had not always gone smoothly. I started with the ones I trusted the most. I sought to hear and understand them, resisting the urge to explain and respond. When feeling blamed or treated unfairly by others, I got curious. When I didn't seem to be able to make my point, I got curious.

I am still working on this, but it gets easier every time I do it.

I really love some of what Gord shared about his approach. When he's feeling vulnerable or defensive in any way, or when he's receiving those signals from others he's working with, that's when he starts asking questions.  How can we solve this? What can I do better? What can I do to help right now? And his go-to question when he doesn't know what else to ask: Tell me more.

I love it. So much wisdom over sandwiches!  I plan to be more intentional about putting this idea into practice. Let me know if you have other stories or tips!


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