There have been quite a few birthdays at Kissing With Confidence Towers of late. I can’t speak for my colleagues, but I can say for myself that every year the phrase “old age is another country” looms into view with slightly more personal significance. I haven’t got the passport to that country yet, but I’m certainly standing in the queue for it to be processed!
To be serious, it’s important not to get disheartened by the prospect of aging – I spent my actual birthday at my in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary party (wasting no opportunity to say “You’d get less for murder” – thank you, Les Dawson) and was bowled over by their, and their friends’, energy as they danced the night away to the many ballroom routines that they have committed to memory and practise every week. They left us “young” ones standing and reminded me that in these ever-changing times, when we are beguiled by the promise of the next and the newest thing, there are some things that should never change, even as we strive to be modern and relevant.
My in-laws’ marriage is clearly built on honesty, fairness and respect, for themselves, for each other and for their family and friends. A relationship spanning more than 60 years that is moreover a happy and productive one needs these things as their bedrock. Who amongst us doesn’t want to be treated honesty, fairly and with respect? I can’t imagine any of us saying “I’m not bothered” about those.
And yet, this marriage has at its core an ability to adapt to changing circumstances – the arrivals and departures of loved ones; a world that looks completely different to that of their youth and a pace of life that in some ways is faster than it has ever been.
So it is in our work with our clients. We want to give them – and for them to know – that that honesty, fairness and respect is there, and that those things will endure, for without it the relationship cannot.
At the same time, we need to listen to them to find out what is working as well as it ever has, and what we need to change to help build the relationship even further. I was working with a group of highly technically skilled people recently, whose cognitive and technical abilities are abundantly clear to those who work with them. Not all of them – by their own admission – have however the all-important emotional intelligence skills, the third of the holy trinity (in my eyes) of what it takes to be a good all-rounder.
You’ll often come across people in the course of your working lives who think that’s it all about showing off their credentials in order to impress you. There is of course a time and a place for that, but before they get there they have to engage with you emotionally, to find out what you need and want. The best way to do this? Ask questions and listen. Really listen. Not just wait. But to find out what you need and adapt to that.
So let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water as we and our businesses get older. Especially honesty, fairness and respect. They’ve served the in-laws well for all this time and I wager they’ll do the same for us and our clients! So Happy Anniversary to Ann and Don, Happy Birthday to my colleagues and a happy year ahead for you and your client relationships. Stay the same – but adapt.
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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.