- July 26, 2016
- Posted by: Hillary Feder
- Category: Creating Emotional Connections
In a project update conversation with a client (Sandy), I asked if she had special plans for the weekend. Her expression fell as she told me, “I’m flying to D.C. to spend the weekend with one of my dearest friends (Cathy) who is struggling with cancer.”
She shared how helpless she felt and her concern about how to communicate with her friend. “This is likely the last time I might see her. Her husband (Todd) said she has all but shut down and is ‘ready to go,’ so how can I engage her in conversation?”
Acknowledging her emotional challenge, I suggested she begin by thinking about the journey they had taken together—growing up as teenagers, spending college spring breaks in various locations, and weaving together the lives and families they had built as adults. Then I proposed she write a note from her heart about how all those memories have meant and present the note with a Faith-Strength- Courage coin to hold or rub as she reflects on her life.
When Sandy and I reconnected two weeks later, she shared the beautiful note she had received from Cathy. “The coin is a part of me. Your note and our time together have given me strength I did not think I had. I’ve asked Todd to leave my new “bracelet” with me when I go, so you will be with me forever.”
Real engagement is all about feeling
Maya Angelo said it best:
“People may forget what you said, people may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. “
Small gestures—helping someone through a difficult period in a personal relationship or marking a personal event of someone with whom you have a professional relationship—are touch points that engage people. It’s not about how big that denotes significance, but rather how special the small details that let’s people know they are being thought of and cared for beyond the work they do.
We’ve been conditioned to go for the gusto, focus on the big things, and don’t sweat the small stuff. As a result, we tend to have our eye on a grand prize like a major project completion, a noteworthy service anniversary, or a promising product launch. And sadly, we overlook everyday smaller “wins” that contribute to the big stuff.
No man is an island, and the best strategy for achieving personal happiness and career success is by demonstrating commitment to and concern for the people who matter most through small gestures.
Five tips to bring this thinking to life:
- Think about people holistically. Often times we relate to work colleagues as just that. Engage them in conversation about their life outside of work to see and appreciate who they are as a total person.
- Focus on the details. Small actions and subtle shifts in your thinking will help you engage with others.
- Make the time. Often we are time starved professionally and personally. Making those personal connections a priority even when time is short shows.
- Listen to hear. When you are listening in conversation, what you are thinking about? Are you listening and working on formulating your response, or are you actively listening? Active listening is critical to establish authentic engagement. An active listener typically pauses in conversation while formulating a reply.
- Nurture regularly. Authentic engagement isn’t something to turn on when you need it. Nurturing personal and professional relationships is like regularly watering a plant to build strong roots.
I would love to hear how your organization cares for your team beyond the work they contribute? Call me at 800-742- 6800 or drop me a note.
If you’re looking to be intentional about shaping the culture in your workplace, we have creative ideas. Let us help you implement down-to- earth strategies that are aligned with your company objectives, brand, message and voice.
Toll free: 800-742- 6800 In Minneapolis/St. Paul: 952-933- 8365 email: Hillary@askhillarys.com