Quick confession here – believe it or not, I like to call myself a “weekend smoker”. Before you jump to a snap judgement there, I am not talking about cigarettes, cigars, vapes, or weekend trips to Colorado. My preferred smoke involves meat. I love to smoke meat! One of my favorite things to smoke are baby back ribs. The confession I had is not that I smoke meat...it's that I have taken it to such a level that whenever I explain the steps involved in what I do, most people think I am just plain nuts. Here is the nutty part - I have a spreadsheet that I use to track EACH time I smoke ribs because I am trying to find the PERFECT, REPEATABLE process.
Here is my little secret broken down into 10 steps:
- Prepare the ribs - trim, mustard, dry-rub...and not just any dry-rub...the best option of the 50+ that I have bought and tested
- Prepare the smoker – the Big Green Egg (BGE) is my smoker of choice
- Start the 2-2-1 method
- First 2 hours - standing up in a rib rack
- Second 2 hours - individually wrapped racks - wrapped in HEAVY duty foil...twice.
- Last hour - opened foil on ribs, but keep them in the foil, just exposed at the top (you can also apply BBQ sauce if you are a sauce type, but really not needed)
- Pull them off the grill and let them sit wrapped up again for 15-30 minutes
- Cut the ribs up for serving
- Serve them to your family, friends, neighbors, etc…
- Gather feedback from your rib audience, document what was good, what needs to be improved, and rated
My friends and family say these ribs are better than the ribs they get in restaurants where the meat almost falls off the bone. These are not competition ribs…these are ribs meant to be eaten!
Can you almost taste it right now??
Now forget all that and let’s talk about another way to cook ribs. In fact, it can be done in 3 easy steps:
- Prepare the ribs like before in step 1
- put the ribs in the microwave for 20 minutes
Which ribs do you want to try?
That same metaphor with ribs can be applied to the age-old experience of listening. Let me try to explain this connection.
Imagine yourself sitting with your team, tribe, or just a group of friends, and a question gets asked like this:
Q: Who are the three people you spend the most time with outside of your family?
You have two choices after this question gets asked:
- Do you want the person to quickly give their answer and move on to the next person
- Do you savor the moment when the person is sharing about an experience they had with one of their “chosen three” or hear a touching story about a influencer in their life?
If you treat the questions like a task to get done, a checkbox and mark it done, you miss the experience of the answer. I like to call that a “microwave question” where we ask the question, but only want a short, quick answer. We live in a microwave society where we want to do everything as fast as possible and, if we are all honest here, lack the patience to work hard at growing something for the long haul.
When questions and the experience of the questions answered are more like a long, slow cooked rib - they are enjoyed much more. A consistent habit of asking questions...AND...active listening to the answers over a long period will grow the relationship of your team to levels not seen today. You will find you care more about them because you KNOW them better. You know the whole person and how they have evolved into the person you see today.
Final thought - don’t microwave your questions and learn to enjoy the experience of the answers like a good smoked baby back rib.
As with all my blogs, here are 5 great questions from my book Group Glue to start a conversation with your group, team, or tribe:
- What is one thing you have learned from your job over the past year?
- If you could be invisible for one day, where would you like to go?
- What was your favorite meal growing up?
- If you could live in any sitcom, which one would you pick?
- What is your favorite quote?
Like my questions? They all come from my latest book called GroupGlue. Over 1100 questions designed to help improve your team or group culture by starting great conversations.