Over a Cup of Coffee

Recently, I had the chance to chat with Greg Cellini about workplace conflict. He was interviewing me for his radio show “Thank God for Mondays” which broadcasts on WSOU in the New York City metropolitan area. I say I chatted with him because that’s what the half hour we spent together felt like – a conversation we were having over a cup of coffee.

I started my HR career as a recruiter, spending years perfecting the art of interviewing people.  As I moved through my career, I realized what a great asset it was. It has certainly come in handy since I started writing and giving interviews about my books!

What is an interview?  It's a conversation. It’s dialogue.  A great interview is the perfect conversation where information is exchanged.  I’ve found that the best interviews – no matter if I’m asking or answering the questions – have a sense of rhythm.  How can you tell if there’s rhythm to your conversations?

  • There is a presence, a sense of being and staying in the moment with the other person(s).  I’ve chatted with Greg before, both times over the phone, yet there was the feel of sitting across the table from each other.
  • They are comfortable.  When you take some time to build rapport in the beginning, you create a relaxed atmosphere, even when the conversation is being broadcast – either live, on the air, or taped for later airing.
  • There is a natural flow to the dialogue.  The best interviews are the ones where the interviewers come prepared – they know the information that they want to receive so they’ve got good questions to ask. Of course, as an interviewee, when I’m being asked about my books, I’m certainly knowledgeable!
  • There is a feeling of spontaneity to the discussion, even though there was a structure and time constraint to the interviews.  They are not rigid question and answer (or interrogation) sessions.  
  • There is a connection between the people who become a team, each interested in having a positive outcome.
  • There is recognition that silence is okay.  A short pause never breaks that natural flow and the dialogue is not rushed nor pressured.  It’s okay to pause for a moment to gather a thought.  
  • There is trust.  All parties are confident and relying on each other for a great experience. 

The Big Book of HR devotes a chapter to “Critical Conversations: and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook devotes a chapter to discovering “What’s The Problem?” Why? 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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