The lost art of the sidebar

We have underestimated the importance of the sidebar conversation. In the business world, people have stopped talking to each other. But it is not because they are from a different generation or have different political views. The reason is that they work from home. The precious time spent with one another before or after meetings is where ideas used to be shared. Friendships were built. Conversations were more than about the next project.

What is a sidebar?

Sidebar conversations are where relationships are built before and after meetings. They help build trust and understanding and allow for better decision-making. A sidebar conversation is any informal, unplanned side discussion during a meeting. They are frequently used in team meetings or brainstorming. They allow more ideas to be expressed than the time allocated to the regular meeting.

How to create a digital sidebar:

Organizations must emulate the safety of the sidebar conversation. This means providing time for people to bounce ideas off one another outside of meetings, encourage new ones and engage in face-to-face discussions without a plan.

  • Create an office hours badge on your avatar or social profile to signal others when you are available
  • Make it OK to schedule blocks of time on someone’s calendar so they can be interrupted during random times
  • Leave yourself open for random virtual sidebars that could turn into something amazing

The digital golf course

Since virtual teams are becoming more common, what does that mean for business relationships? There is no digital golf course. The golf course used to be where deals were made. Not the board room.

Conclusion

We all need to find ways to make our lives more meaningful and fulfilling. And sometimes, that requires stepping out of your comfort zone or trying something new. Enter the digital sidebar. It provides a space for people who share common interests or goals to talk about their ideas without fear of judgment while also getting some advice from others on potential pitfalls they may encounter along the way. This type of dialogue can help us see things differently–and provide motivation when we don’t think there’s any left inside ourselves. It may seem like an odd thing to do. But, building time in your calendar in which you encourage interruption may be the very thing that sets you apart from other managers.

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