My years in the advertising industry as a suit allowed me to interact with many different types of people.
I had two interesting client contacts, L and R, from the company Du Pont. L & R were each responsible for different sets of product portfolio. We arranged our weekly status meetings with both clients on the same trips to their office.
L is for late and lengthy
Meetings with L were usually precede with at least 30 minutes of waiting, she was habitually late as her earlier meetings would certainly overrun. Our sessions started her downloading what her past weekend encounters, we had to make sure she was mentally and emotionally ready to move into the more serious discussions. L took a longer time to reach her decisions, as she was rather indecisive.
We had been trained to be extremely sensitive to her mood swings. Her meetings usually lasted almost 2 hours before she had to rush for her other appointments.
R is for regimental precision
Our liaisons with R would be completely different – she set her meetings at 30-min slots. At the start of each meeting, she removed her watch and placed it on the table in full view of everyone. She then went straight to outline the list of items she wanted to cover in the short 30 minutes segment, with time allocated to each of the items – some 5min for one item, 3 min for another, etc.
The total time for each meeting would add up to less than 30 min. She made sure she had buffer for when conversations took longer. We were usually done and dusted at the end of the stipulated time. Needless to say, R is extremely decisive and clear. In the same way she expected no delay from the agency.
For these reasons, we would spend no less than 3 hours at the DuPont office each week – 30 mins of serious meeting with R first, followed by L’s, filled with laughter and chatters, and waiting.
Reading and dealing people well is an art
I could not imagine if we would have switched our approaches to both ladies. Not getting L emotionally psyched up before her meeting would have been disastrous for us, as it meant no decisions would be made.
R was incredibly efficient – we had to make sure that we are water-tight with our preparation.
Those who had worked with me would recognize that I adopt R’s style of working. They would remember me for my weekly 30-min managers’ meetings where I allocated 5 min for each of my 6 direct reports.
While this worked well for me personally, I have learnt to appreciate different working styles when I collaborate with others.
Ability to read people and adapt for collaboration are two of the key components of having good EQ.