Two managers, two ways of welcoming you in their office.
When you enter John’s office, the way to his desk is so long that you just wonder how can a large company in 2010 afford to offer to one single person such a big room. John comes to you to shake your hand but hardly looks at you, or at least, you couldn’t tell what the colours of his eyes are ! Then he tells you to sit down, but the table is so big, with so many chairs that you do not have a clue on what is the best suitable place to be. He opens the meeting by saying : “So ?…” and you are just here trying to remind what your intentions were before getting to that point.
Peter is quite different, though he has the same level of power in that organization. After a warm handshake where you could perfectly devise his light blue eyes, he invites you to sit down indicating a direction (which means that you have only two or three chairs to chose from), he waits for you to sit down before chosing his own chair. And he selects the one in the corner, quite close to you, making you feel that you are here as an equal, in order to work together. And then comes the opening : “Have you been travelling from Paris ?”. You answer that you come from another place and your personal life comes into existence all of a sudden.
You understand out of these two authentic stories that the way a meeting starts is very subtle and gives you a lot of indications on both the possibilities and impossibilities that exist. Our friend, the wonderful philosopher Esa Saarinen, has proposed a new way to describe the type of intelligence required in our complex times. He calls it “Systems Intelligence”. One of its characteristics is what he calls Microbehaviours. He invites us to pay attention to very little things that can have huge effects in the efficiency of our work – and the humanity of it. Peter’s behaviour might not be calculated – but it indicates something that is crucial : if you are in front of me and if we are supposed to work together, then we need to access the best of us. And microbehaviours indicate precisely this : instead of being only focused on the task to accomplish, caring truly for each other can liberate enormous amount of energy or creativity !
What might be your microbehaviours today ? Can you observe the effect they produce on others, on you ? What are the microbehaviours directed to you that generate the biggest effect ? Give it a try. It is powerful.