The only person in the room

by Jack Warren, editor and host of Top Coach Podcast

Busy convention hall or crowded lunchroom. You’re in the midst of a conversation with someone and the person sitting across from you is making you feel as if you’re in a conference room negotiating a contract. As the old saying goes, they’re making you feel like you’re the only person in the room.

Or perhaps you’ve been in the opposite situation. You’re meeting one-on-one with a friend, a co-worker, a boss, a client, a business associate, or your spouse. You two are the only people in the room, yet two minutes into the conversation you’re beginning to wonder if your partner’s mind is somewhere else.

Let’s face it — if you’re reading this right now, you’re one of those folks who is always looking to get better. You probably keep some kind of planner to manage your busy schedule. You look at your schedule and dread the 30-minute block you’ve set aside for a meeting because of the hundred other things you’ve got to do. Or you’re approached after practice by a young coach wanting to say “hi” and perhaps pick your brain a bit.

How do you approach these situations? Do you wear the “I’ve got someplace else to be” look all over your face? Are you constantly gazing over the shoulder of the person you’re talking to? Do you frequently glance at your watch?

Here’s the simple lesson for today. This will require no reading or practicing. This is a simple matter of just do it. When you’re having a conversation with someone — anyone — focus on that person. Perhaps you find this hard because you never were compelled to do this by your parents. (Too many teenagers cannot look an adult in the eye.) You can, however, do it. Do it over and over until it becomes routine and comfortable. This is a good start.

Then there’s part two. As Chris Voss points out in his book Never Split the Difference, listen to learn — don’t listen to answer. Truly listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t be thinking about what your answer is going to be. This is hard. This does require practice. But it can be done.

Let it be said about you that “he makes me feel like the only person in the room.”

Jack is available to speak to your team or organization or at your next function. He also provides individual and organizational coaching and consulting. You can get more information on these services at Jack’s professional services site,

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

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