Last month was my turn again to do the ClarkMorgan Demonstration Seminar Tour, covering Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. The topic was ‘Impressing Your Boss’ and one of the key messages was how you could learn a lot from watching your manager. Your manager’s work style will tell you a lot more about what he truly values in terms of professional behaviour than if you just listen to what he says. That is not to say that you should not listen to your boss, but there is a lot of truth in the expression ‘actions speak louder than words’.
During the seminar we discussed the different information which we can obtain from watching our managers and also what our own behaviour tells colleagues about us. It was interesting to see that many of the trainees had never really paid much attention to what their bosses did at work. It was fun to see light bulbs turn on in the minds of the audience as they took time out to actually analyze their bosses and come to conclusions.
Just a few days ago, I was waiting for the elevator to take me up to our office. The girl next to me was engrossed in whatever the flashing lights on her mobile phone were telling her. The bell sounded to announce the arrival of the elevator, the doors slid open and we both stepped forward. I had the advantage of not being immersed in a game of Angry Birds on my phone and so I saw the EMS delivery guy stride quickly from the lift. He was really moving far to quickly for a guy who, much like the oncoming Chinese girl, had every ounce of his attention on the screen of his mobile. Normally, a coming together of minds suggests an agreement or decision being made. In this case it was far more physical and the crack of skull on skull and the clatter of mobile on floor followed by squeals of ay-yaaaaa, could be heard right down the narrow corridor.
This was a rather painful lesson in the benefits of being more aware of your surroundings, but a lesson nevertheless.
Many Westerners of my generation will fondly remember the movie ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’. In one of the more immortal lines of cinema, the hero Bueller tells us that ‘Life goes past quickly. If you don’t take time out to watch it sometimes, you might miss it.’ In Ferris’ case he was recommending regular truancy. In my case I am simply saying that if we really take note of what is happening around us and don’t just see what we want to, we can learn a lot.
Just for a week, challenge yourself to keep the phone in the bag and the ipod at home. Entertain yourself instead with a bit of people watching. Ask yourself what opinions you are making based solely on people’s actions. Then ask yourself what impression you might be projecting with your own behaviour and habits. You might be surprised by some of the conclusions you reach. The trainees at the demos certainly were.