My natural tendency in meetings is to dive directly into the work. Work is about solving problems and I like solving problems.
Such an approach can work with someone you’ve known and have been effectively working with for a long time. Since you already know that you can work together, you can focus on doing the actual work.
However, when you’re meeting with someone for the first time, before doing the work, you first need to see whether you can actually work effectively with that person. You need to show that you can work together before actually working together. This means patiently revealing your character and intellect through a hopefully pleasant give and take which is very often about issues outside of work.
How much time you need to spend showing someone that you can work together depends on the person’s character and how long you’ve worked together in the past. The more a person appreciates diving directly into the problems and the longer you’ve been working together, the faster you can get to doing the actual work.
But even people who overwhelmingly prefer to dive directly into the work need to spend time to initially see whether they can work with you. If we have this luxury, it helps us avoid people who we don’t want to work with. And even if not, it hopefully helps us establish at least some common ground with the person which makes it more likely that we’re able to work effectively moving forward.
In addition to its practical benefits, the need is deeply engrained in us through thousands of years of evolution. So it’s unlikely to change any time soon.
Showing that you can work together with someone is a necessary first step to actually working with them.
Also published on Medium.