What a fantastic month June was. Russell (Russmeister), Michael and I spent much of it to-ing and fro-ing between our respective homes and the Cotswolds, where we were delivering big audience gigs to one of our favourite clients, twice a day for two hours (me and Michael) and once a day for four hours (Meister) over seven days in total for audiences ranging from 100 – 162 people. Bonzer!
The sun shone, the birds sang, the jets from nearby RAF Fairford roared, my heart pounded. Big gigs = high adrenaline! You have to be on form for these things; I confess that I was really nervous for a few of them and it’s easy to be swallowed up by that when it hits. Forget to smile and make eye contact it doesn’t take long for the audience to disengage.
I was talking about Confidence, Assertiveness and Listening. Some of you will be brilliant at all three. Great! Share the word about why it’s important. Look out for opportunities to help and influence those people who don’t find them as easy to do as you are. Relax in the acknowledge that the better you are at all three, the higher people will judge your emotional intelligence, or EQ, to be.
EQ is important as it’s not the technical stuff (important) but it’s the way you relate to yourself and then to others (crucial). Success starts with you and how you think, and feel, about yourself. Get that right and the rest will follow.
Not everyone is blessed with confidence, assertiveness and the ability to listen properly, however. Many of these incredibly bright, sparky people who you’d never look at and think worry about these things, do, and are often thinking that they’re the only person for whom any of this stuff is an issue.
To debunk that myth, during the session we talked about a number of senior people who have a strong track record of success and yet have a number of “Gremlins” – irrational thoughts/feelings/beliefs about themselves and their abilities – which if they’re not careful can really grind them down and stop them from making the changes that create even more success for them.
What all of those senior people have in common is that a) they can identify what triggers these Gremlins, b) have ways to manage them and c) keep on doing more of the things that trigger the Gremlins in the first place. Brave.
That’s the first step – how you think and feel about yourself. Second is putting it into practice. Enter “Assertiveness”. It’s a relatively new behaviour for us; it’s about creating win/win opportunities for yourself and others in terms of your behaviour and a focus on collaborating. Not every situation demands it – or at least we won’t choose it in every one – but ignore it at your peril. Some people focus on the outcome to the exclusion of everything else; others the opposite, always putting other people’s needs in front of their own. Cue a slow-burning frustration that will end with them kicking the cat, the bin or a wall. Ouch.
Finally, we talked about getting brilliant at listening. It’s not nodding, smiling and waiting for the other person to finish. It’s about paying attention properly. Demonstrating that via an ability to ask relevant questions, reflect back the key themes that are emerging and even summarise the content. In doing so, you’ll build rapport and trust with your clients and earn the privilege to speak up and tell them what’s really on your mind. Wonderful.
I’ve got a break from frontline training delivery for a couple of weeks. Already I’m looking forward to the next event. It won’t be to 162 people but I can guarantee that every single one of them will be the fascinating people that make this quite simply the best job in the world.
For my next blog I’ll be picking up two themes: Assertiveness from today and “Would your clients have you in their house?” from last year. Stay tuned!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.