Ever notice how clearly you think when you’re with certain people? And how foggy things get when you’re with others? Organizations are incubators for the full spectrum. So it’s easy to check out office mates, managers, even entire meetings and pick up on contrasts.

Let’s start by studying the people who leave your brain feeling brighter, juicier, ready to attack the next project. What are they doing?

Here’s my observation …
these people are direct and say what they mean
they don’t carry hidden agendas
their egos disappear as they focus 100% on the topic at hand, which means …
they don’t let problems in the background distract them
they care about advancing the conversation toward discovery and insight
their language isn’t heavy
as a result, the conversation can creatively unfold, fueled by original thinking as every good idea lays the groundwork for the next idea.

By contrast, there’s a completely different dynamic in people who leave you feeling foggy or confused or drained in their wake …
they drag out their narrative and often never get to the point
it’s common to feel them covering up or hiding something
while they listen, they are talking to themselves
low-grade anxiety hovers in the background
they are oblivious to how their words affect other people
flavors of criticism, judgment or doubt linger after the conversation is over.

If you’re dealing with the latter group and need anti-fogging tools, my three favorites are The Managerial Moment of Truth, Fierce Conversations and Crucial Accountability. Recognizing what’s happening is a big first step. Not getting pulled into the fog with them is a second. From there, its a matter of asking productive questions, tolerating awkward silences and deftly exposing the fogging machine while respecting the human. It’s uncomfortable work but, done well, both of you will discover new clarity on the other side.

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