Rand, Verin, Ingtar, Loial, Mat and Hurin use Lord Barthanes' invitation to gain access to his estate in search of Fain and the Horn. Like all the Cairhienin, Lord Barthanes plays the Great Game almost without thought. As such, his short conversation with Rand is both funny and frustrating.
"This is a fine party. You have many friends, and I've never seen so many entertainers."
"Many friends," Barthanes agreed. "You can tell Galldrian ho mnay, and who. Some of the names might surprise him."
"I have never met the King, Lord Barthanes, and I don't expect I ever will."
"Of course. You just happened to be in that flyspeck village. You were not checking on the progress of retrieving that statue. A great undertaking, that."
"Yes." He had begun thinking of Verin again, wishing she had given him some advice on how to talk with a man who assumed he was lying. He added without thinking, "It's dangerous to meddle with things from the Age of Legens if you don't know what you are doing."
Barthanes peered into his wine, musing as if Rand had just said something profound. "ARe you saying you do not support Galldrian in this" he asked finally.
"I told you, I've never met the King."
"Yes, of course. I did not know Andormen played at the Great Game so well. We do not see many here in Cairhien."
Rand took a deep breath to stop from telling the man angrily that he was not playing their Game. "There are many grain barges from ANdor in the river."
"Merchants and traders. Who notices such as they? As well notice the beetles on the leaves." Barthanes's voice carried equal contempt for both beetles and merchants, but once again he frowned as if Rand had hinted at something.
Rand and Lord Barthanes, The Great Hunt, p. 391-392
Rand is simply trying to make idle conversation, while Barthanes is convinced that he's making some deeper strategic move to his disadvantage. Rand is getting more visibly frustrated, while Barthanes is getting more wary. Communication is probably an area any organization would universally and unanimously agree that needs improvement. Poor communication causes a tremendous amount of friction within (and without) an organization. The majority of my time as a leader is spent talking to people: getting them to understand the direction the company is taking, listening to their concerns, discussing issues, negotiating other peoples' miscommunications, it's endless. A couple of concepts that have worked for me:
- My home field advantage is on someone else's turf (office, desk, workspace, etc)
- Put the computer facing a direction that requires you to fully engage with people in your office
- Take notes
For the first one, this means getting out of the office and going to someone else's. It gives them the illusion of "home field advantage", it makes it seem as if you're more willing to give something up. In reality, I'm there to get what I need. The second one is critical to just basic human decency. Technology is a giant distraction, and to continue working on your computer, checking email (or whatever), is just a giant middle finger to the people that come to find you for assistance. Giving them your full attention is the absolute focus of your job as a leader. I saw a couple of the senior leaders during my shipyard days set their offices up so that computer work put their back to the door and they would have to literally turn 180 degrees to greet someone who entered their office. It's a set up I've copied since. There is just no such thing as "multi-tasking". Finally, note taking is a way to ensure that you're able to recall the details of the discussion at a later date. Putting pen to paper engages the brain more fully to drive the discussion to long term memory. It also allows you to summarize key points in your own words and ensure you're not miscommunicating. Writing takes more time than talking, so it slows down the conversation; which can assist in damping any emotions. It's also a way to preserve decision making on your part as a leader, so you're more consistent. To date, I've got a dozen or so notebooks from my current job. Communication is key, and clear communication is critical; keep trying methods to see what works best and then stick to it. It's infectious.