The Bawtry Monolith . . .

It's good to talkIn 1990 Adrian Hosford told his colleagues that their company was NOT in the telephony business.

An odd statement, you might think, from the then Director of Communications for BT.

So, if not telephony, what exactly was their raison d’être?

Allegedly, it was ‘Reciprocated Confidences’ – the exchange of ‘confidences’ between human beings, leading to better communications and, in turn, deeper relationships.

Ooh, how delicious is that phrase?! Reciprocated Confidences. Love it!

Over time, the people who worked for BT started to understand what reciprocated confidences meant. But their challenge then was to explain it to their customers.

So cue David Abbott, from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, who condensed this philosophy into a campaign that delivered to BT a £5m return – a testament, surely, to the power of good communications?

Guessed what it was?

Yes . . . it’s good to talk.

A few Mondays ago, I met my sister for a coffee/lunch date, and everywhere we tried to go was closed. It was February, and cold, grey and windy, but we expected more than this. Perhaps if I’d planned the outing, and not gone on spec, it would have worked out better – but unfortunately my high intuition preferences stopped me doing that (they often do).

So we had a giggle, walking down some very pretty streets, unfortunately deserted of human life form, and posed by a local monument (we’re not really sure it was one, but we were desperate for some excitement) for a memento of our uneventful day (oh, it got worse …. a restaurant that we’d expected to be open but was closed, a local country house not ready to receive visitors until the week after our visit, and before long, my car desperately needing a re-fuel because of the extra miles we were clocking up.)

And then we stumbled upon a little gem of a country inn . . . and the day started to take a turn for the better . . . and we lounged on leather sofas, drinking coffee, and later lime and soda when we became coffeed-out … until we had to go home.

And the best bit of the day?

Being able to talk, to really talk … and being able to listen in order to learn something new about someone else. I guess those in the know at BT might call it a reciprocated confidences moment?

I think I might also call it conversation – something that’s easy to do with friends, but so often missing in a work 1:1.

So what could you do in your next work 1:1 to get the conversation going?

How could you find out about the other person, while still being able to share with them what’s on your mind?

And while I fully understand that spending a relaxing day with your sister is not quite the same as being in the work environment, believe me, the skillset is similar:

  • listening
  • using silence
  • asking open questions
  • feeding back through body language to show that you’re interested
  • appropriate challenge
  • supporting

If your 1:1s at work aren’t working . . . try something different. Try to own the conversation and to enjoy it.

And when you’ve mastered the art . . . try to help others to do the same.

Oh, and Sis, if you’re reading . . . I couldn’t have had a better day: reciprocated confidences in abundance!  Thank you.

One thought on “The Bawtry Monolith . . .

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