We’re always on the lookout for “organic” ways to connect with each other: to see and be seen - whether in personal relationships or professional ones. Why? Because it feels good, feels right and true. The goals we accomplish are based on our ability and willingness to create an honest two-way channel of receptivity, to understand the subtle messages and the underlying needs of our customers and partners. It’s that human connection that allows the necessary insight to accomplish this and the foundation of our collective ability to co-create success with our clients.
The strategy of forging a unique connection and communication happened unconsciously at first, then developed into my go-to formula: Tune in, Join, be Curious & Match. These simple steps have allowed me to go beyond reaching clients and just fulfilling their needs. My unique approach has enabled me to simply bring myself more fully into the process. I’ll unpack these steps for you then share how they work for me.
First, let’s examine some interesting facts about who we’re already communicating with on a daily basis:
The workforce, as well as our clients and partners, is changing rapidly. A new study shows that 63% of U.S. executives are eligible for retirement in the next 5 years; 50% of working millennials are already in leadership roles, and 73% of working millennials are involved in purchase decision-making. This huge shift in the tenor and pace of how we do business, and with whom, is the current reality we use to strategize new creative vehicles to speak to those learners and decision makers. The challenge requires us to dig deeper into real daily connections and communication. Millennials are more concerned with making a difference, in the world, as well as in their lives, so it’s never so crucial to re-examine our beliefs: what drives us in our businesses - especially in how we convey who we are and what value we bring to the table. “What does/will it mean?” - takes on a new, deeper dimension.
This huge shift is felt across how content is being created, brainstormed and delivered - only the delivered part is truly within the area of my digital media expertise; that and my passion for genuine communication.
I find that I’ve shifted naturally into the parlance and casual freedom of how most millennials communicate - as a team manager and in the general population - in part because they naturally do all of my steps, and I feel an alignment with their open-hearted spirit.
Sometimes the approach is as simple as paying closer attention in written correspondences such as texts and emails by watching the cadence of words and use of language and by cueing in to the tempo and tone of speech during calls. There’s an inherent friendliness, for lack of a better term, in business communication.
Here’s the formula again and a brief story that helped me put it all together.
- Tuning in - this translates to dropping my mindset/agenda and really listening.
- Joining - finding organic ways to meet the client or team member where they are - by truly being myself and by “seeing” them.
- Curiosity/being Curious - allowing “what is” to reveal itself; not forcing the pace of the work or process; watching for something of interest to emerge even if the other party’s personality/ modus operandi is potentially challenging.
- Matching - aligning is another way to phrase this - by simply listening to all usage of communication and finding one’s way into it.
Now the story part: I was the lead contractor charged with coordinating and managing the process and production of the voiceover and international translation with a client’s global SME (subject matter expert) team. The international team members, with already full project loads, saw me and this project as an added stressor. This resulted in huge delays in review response times and sleepless nights for me.
Quickly realizing the need to find the best way to support them and the tight timeline, I put my process of Tuning in, Joining, a natural Curiosity, and Matching into play to align with them. I also had to stay present and keep calm - easy to forget when trying to move the project agenda forward! I put away my goals, and thought about them as people. I decided to show them my genuine interest in and curiosity about their countries and specifically their towns in an effort to knock on a small window in their lives. Having the opportunity to collaborate with people from other countries played into my fascination with other cultures and a love of travel. So, next I took that love into Google and researched each person’s home town and made notes of the beautiful places, the festivals, the holidays [which I needed to know to build my timeline anyway!] and began my next email with comments and questions about each of their places in the world.
I also sent a picture of my hometown Austin and a few brief notes of interest. Bingo - the SMEs opened up like dear old pen pals.
Since the feelings were real, the tone in my emails and conference calls relayed that I was Tuned in to them. I expressed genuine Curiosity in who they were as people. The effort I made in being interested showed my desire to Join them in that curiosity. The enthusiasm was then Matched back when I received beautiful photos of historical sites, museums, cobblestone street markets and even a few sweet stories of family members which connected the dots to those places.
And the international SME team members did something that surprised me - they showed interest in joining with me; seeing me as a person, and not simply a demanding project manager with an aggressive timeline. This in turn not only smoothed out and enhanced the resulting consistent communication, but also overall client satisfaction and success of the project. It was enriching to connect with those people in such an honest, organic way.
It truly was a turning point for me: making a different kind of effort to feel and “see” these client-team members forever changed how I now move in my work-a-day world.
This formula has also been invaluable when collaborating with fellow contractors on trainings and e-learning projects. As separate entities, we may or may not know the other team members integral to the collective effort. Yet our reputations and livelihoods are intertwined. We rely on each other’s expertise and high-level communication skills in order to maximize hours spent to bring the best product to delivery. This can be as unnerving as working with unknown client teams. To remove the possible roadblocks or angst is a huge benefit at any juncture, but especially at the start. This really sets the tone for successful outcomes. We all do our best work when mutual respect and joining forces lays solid ground work that holds the project together during the challenges that will undoubtedly come up.
TrainingPros thanks our consultant contributor, Sissy Siero, for this thought leader article in our Learning Perspectives series. With over twenty-five years in the entertainment industry, Sissy has a unique ability to connect with wide-ranging audiences. From her humble beginnings playing original music on the streets of NYC, to her days on tour with seven-time Grammy nominee Joan Osborne, fast forward to performing & event emceeing in Austin, Texas, and lending her voice to international brands, Sissy’s focus has always been on the listener, building trust and connection with her voice.
As a voiceover artist and on-camera talent, she’s elevated brands as varied as Fortune 500 companies to mom and pop shops. Her breadth extends from national and international radio/TV commercials and network TV shows, to internal instructional videos, from managing teams for E-learning courses, and to creating characters for company podcasts. Focused on what it takes to deliver the message and the right performance, Sissy gives ‘voice’ to her clients’ messages.
With the launch of her new podcast and blog entitled “Power of Voice with Sissy Siero,” she will continue sharing fresh and surprising perspectives with her growing legion of followers as she joins the ranks of current voiceover influencers. The content will continue the work and focus of human connection, closing the communication gap within varied generations of colleagues, and exploring themes arising from running a boutique media company. In addition to checking out her website at sissysiero.com, connect with Sissy on Twitter.
TrainingPros, Inc., founded in 1997, works closely with training and development departments of large organizations to identify, attract and support leading contract specialists for focused training and development engagements. A proprietary on-boarding process led by experienced Relationship Managers helps ensure the right personnel for the job.
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