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Marissa Mayer May Be Right: Show Up (How To Talk Series #1)

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You can’t talk if you’re not there.

With your colleague, maybe with your spouse when you left the house. Maybe your sister on the phone, the friend in London using Skype. Nothing happens when you don’t show up.

ShowUp-3-04222013Today we continually fine-tune our understanding of showing up: we show up with a tweet, with a blog post, with a telephone call. We show up by email (and sometimes our explanatory emails mark us absent). And then there is actual, physical, atoms and genes-on-the-scene showing up. But even that is not so clear, because despite standing here as you jabber, my mind is seated on the couch reliving that scene from Terminator (was it II?) where the semi-truck-trailer shoots off the bridge to land in the concrete spillway to continue chasing our heroes.

Maybe this is part of the “Why?” behind Marissa Mayer monkeying with the Yahoo! work-from-home policy—to help people be present:

Mayer defended her decision by first acknowledging that “people are more productive when they’re alone,” and then stressed “but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.” The shift in policy affects roughly 200 of Yahoo’s 12,000 employees. (reported by Christopher Tkaczyk, CNN Money)

I hope and believe collaboration and innovation are at least partially behind the Yahoo! change (which is to say, I hope the change is not a retrograde movement toward tighter control of knowledge workers and the corporate monologues they produce). There is some truth in the move: we cannot collaborate without being present. Also true: there are a lot of ways to be present when the collaborator is not physically there just as there are a lot of ways to be absent even while your carcass sits upright at a desk.

So today, choose to show up. Signal your decision with active listening skills. Refuse to be put off by anti-collaborative rants and power plays—say what you need to say to contribute. Refuse the director’s feigned emotion over this or that decision and tell the truth.

Show up today. It feels way better than hiding on the couch and watching your internal TV.

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