Is there rhythm to your conversations?

I started my HR career as a recruiter, spending years perfecting the art of interviewing people. As I moved through the many facets of the HR functions during my career, I realized that perfecting my interview skills was a great asset.

What is an interview? It's a conversation. And a great interview is the perfect conversation where information is exchanged. It's a dialogue where two or more people get and give information.

Collectively, Barbara and I have years of experience interviewing, asking questions and giving and getting information so we could make informed decisions. But over the past year, we've been on the other side -- the subject of the interviews -- as we've had the opportunities to talk about The Big Book of HR. As we reflect on the best of those interviews, the thing they had in common was a sense of rhythm. What gave them this rhythm?

· There was a presence, a sense of being and staying in the moment with the other person(s). All of these interviews were conducted over the phone, yet there was the feel of sitting across the table from each other.

· They were comfortable. Despite the fact that these conversations were being broadcast (either live, on the air or taped for later airing) the conversations were relaxed. In one case the interviewer called a half hour before the taping so we could build rapport with each other.

· There was a natural flow to the dialogue. The best interviews were the ones where the interviewers came prepared and asked questions that were relevant to the book. The same interviewer who called ahead also called back to say he couldn't believe how fast the time passed and how enjoyable it was.

· There was a feeling of spontaneity to the discussion, even though there was a structure and time constraint to the interviews. They were not rigid question and answer sessions.

· There was a connection between the parties and any gap that may have existed at the start was closed. The parties became a team, each interested in having a positive outcome.

· There was recognition that silence was okay. It was okay to pause for a moment to gather a thought. A short pause never broke the natural flow. The dialogue was not rushed, nor was there any sense of pressure.

· There was trust. All parties had confidence in themselves and the others.

The Big Book of HR devotes a chapter to Critical Conversations because there are so many circumstances at work when good information has to be given and received. Whether your conversations are critical or casual, keep the rhythm in them.

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Managing people is the most challenging part of any leader's day. And that job certainly is not getting any easier. The Big Book of HR will provide any HR professional, manager, or business owner of any size organization the information they need to get the most from their talent. It is filled with information on everything from the most strategic HR-related issues to the smallest tactical detail of how to manage people.