Checking in with a teammate

Six years ago, I called Mike Fitzgerald for advice. I was sensing my teammate, who we’ll call Dave, was having a tough time. I wanted to check in with Dave, but I was second-guessing myself. I didn’t think his mood had anything to do with work. I worried I might be sticking my nose where it didn’t belong.

Mike encouraged me. He said, “Next time you are one-on-one with Dave, ask him how he’s doing. Let him know you are sensing something might be on his mind. Tell him you are not looking to pry, but you are happy to listen if he ever wants to talk, even if it’s not work-related.”

In Mike’s experience, people appreciate knowing that their coworkers notice them and care enough to check in. In other words, even if my sense was off and everything was fine, Dave would walk away from the interaction knowing I see him and care about him.

After all these years, that conversation with Mike sticks with me. I’ve applied his advice hundreds of times, and I’ve found he’s right: Even when my sense is off, people appreciate knowing they are not invisible.


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