Let’s set the scene. Tuesday started badly with some of the worst, most personal nightmares I’d ever experienced. The journey to the radio station was difficult given restrictions imposed by flooding. I arrived on time, but the first words as I came through the door were negative.
Oh, poor me! Oh, happy me! This was the best reminder I’ve ever had of the fundamental importance of the first four minutes of any interaction. Those four minutes set the scene and establish the tone for what happens next.
Fascinatingly, I don’t ‘do’ conflict. In fact, I flee from it. But when I’m pushed beyond my limits (we all have limits, don’t we?) I snap, and I over-react. I snapped. I declared we have no idea what other people are going through.
Interestingly, my hot buttons were pushed two additional times in that very same day. Surely, my reaction couldn’t have anything to do with the nightmares and difficulties of the day? I’m joking. Of course they influenced the outcomes! So, in one day, the-boy-that-runs-from-conflict had harsh words with three groups of people.
Reflecting on the day, I was reminded of the importance of taking the initiative in the first four minutes of any fresh encounter. In all the cases, the other people were thinking about themselves and what they wanted. I was far lower down their priorities and out of focus. If we are to mature, I think this is a good thing to recognise – people put themselves first. So, if we could use the first four minutes of any encounter to put them first – just for four minutes – we’d frame a better conversation and may even create a masterpiece.
Remember that the stopwatch is reset for every fresh connection – which means that you may have to run the four minutes multiple times in one day. I won’t lie to you – this is hard work, but it is better than spending the next few hours fuming.