By Tyler Jefford

On August 12th, 2020


I stole this question from Lara Hogan who took it from someone else. I think it’s such an awesome question to kick off a new relationship as a manager and I have used it in all my first one-on-ones with any new employee or partner I will be working closely with.

There is a lot of value that can come from the conversation, and it’s wrapped in a sort of ice breaker. We don’t often think of ourselves as being grumpy too often, but can recognize when others seem a bit off.

"Tyler seems like he’s in a bad mood today."

It’s important to be able to reflect on yourself and your emotions, especially when interacting with people. When you are working closely with others every day, you might notice something that really gets under your skin. If its something I am doing or if its something I see unfolding in front of me in a meeting, I might be able to step in and steer the conversation away from someone getting grumpy and toward a productive solution.

I use this question and follow up questions to get to know the person, what makes them tick, how I can help when I notice they are grumpy, and how we can work best together as a team.

This is personal, and I leave it open and vague to let the conversation unfold naturally. I take notes on key points I hear and keep these in mind when I interact with everyone.

Asking questions like this is an example of being an empathetic leader. Leading by keeping people first, learning about their challenges, their families and their aspirations. Try it out in your next 1-1 conversation and see how you can be a more thoughtful leader when you listen to their answers.