Thinking Out Loud

Unique Talents

One of Adam’s unique talents is knowing when someone doesn’t quite “have it right.” In other words, when he hears someone talking about something he can tell if they have all the correct information. Of course this isn’t fool proof but more often than not, in his work as a project manager, he is on the mark with this instinct.

While he was on the phone the other day with a client, I overheard him pick up on one of these situations. He said to Sam, “I think I know what you’re getting at and I believe there’s a little more to it. So, let me follow up with Sandra to clarify a few things and I’ll get right back to you this afternoon

He looked over at me and said, “I could tell that Sam misunderstood or misinterpreted something from a phone meeting that took place yesterday. I wasn’t at the meeting but something just doesn’t feel right.”  So he called Sandra, asked a few questions, and discovered that there was information that Sam did not have.

Then Adam called Sam, as he said he would, and found a way to give an update that accounted for all the (missing) information, thereby keeping the project on course. He commented to me about how often this happens, where there is some small misunderstanding/misinterpretation that gets acted on and then needs to be corrected. A lot of his project management time is devoted to correcting and preventing these mistakes. Because of his unique talent, he aims to prevent rather than have to correct.

I was intrigued by the process and asked Adam how he knew there was missing information. After some reflection and attempts to articulate what he does in these situations, he basically said, “I don’t know how I know. I just know.”

So I put on my processing styles hat and asked more specific questions: Is it something you hear in the voice of the other person or is it that something isn’t logical in the presentation? “Probably a little bit of both,” he said. He reflected further, “Because I place so much emphasis on relationships, I really try to get to know all of these people I work with, which allows me to hear and feel when something is dissonant. It’s through this connection [interpersonal] that I have with the other person that something happens when they’re talking that tells me they don’t have it right. I guess you could say that I just know them well enough to know.”

Having Adam on that team results in fewer mistakes and a smoother flow to a project. He continuously tends to the relationships, which gives him access to information that others don’t have. It’s through the ease and trust in the relationship that “stuff” is inadvertently revealed. Adam picks the stuff up and acts on it as needed to keep everything running smoothly. As is true with any of our unique processing talents, they often go unnoticed because they are so natural and matter of fact in how they are employed.

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