June 16, 2024

Do not try to be the smartest in the room; try to be the kindest.

Do not try to be the smartest in the room; try to be the kindest.

I always considered myself not especially smart. I mean, I think I have an "eye" or a "nose" for detecting good and bad things in advance, but I developed so many different things during my career that I am not an expert in anything in particular. In Spanish, we have a saying, "Maestro Liendre: De tó sabe, pero de ná entiende." I don't really know (and don't want) to translate it because it loses its punch, but it fits perfectly here.

Maybe that's why I had that saying in mind before every single meeting I had over the past few years. "Do not try to be the smartest in the room; try to be the kindest."

What does that mean? Well, the main point is always being willing to help.

This might seem like obvious advice, but in the business world of winning and losing, that many people still use "war" concepts to refer to meetings and negotiations. This soft skill is a game changer.

Here's what I expect from someone kind in a meeting, we cold call it "The kind Framework" or "El Framework Güenagent":

  • Listening. This is very important and pretty difficult to find in meetings. Many people arrive with a speech in their heads and are just waiting for their turn to spit out the words without any link or context to others' points of view.
  • Being respectful. Being nice is the new punk, and respect and understanding of other realities are the Rosetta Stone. We should not only try to be respectful but also demand this from others.
  • Being empathetic. This is closely linked to listening. You need to understand the background of the topics or issues people bring to the table and put yourself in their shoes.
  • Being resolutive. A meeting that doesn't end with a solution on the table is just a waste of time for everyone involved. Applying points 1, 2, and 3 in a killer combo can lead to a solution you probably didn't have in mind at the very beginning.

For me, this is by default. And honestly, it's more common to find "nice" people than those with other, less pleasant traits. And guess what? Niceness is contagious. When you apply these aptitudes, you can expect the same from others, spreading the nice framework across teams.

So, this is my particular way of being nice in meetings, and I can tell you something:

just a few people are going to miss the smartest in the room, but everyone is going to miss someone kind.

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