…and I will tell you something for nothing

I had a recent trip abroad to deliver a leadership training programme. I was sitting in the bar of the hotel having a quiet drink waiting for my co-trainer to join me and as usual found myself listening to a conversation on the table next to mine –be careful what you discuss in public areas, who knows who is listening in! It was another expat, like myself, talking to a couple of locals. The subject of the conversation was principally about himself, his company and how brilliant they are.

The two locals continued to smile and nod throughout the conversation which got louder and more animated the more local lager the expat consumed. From my position I could see the locals were giving each other that look –
you know the one, the one that says what a !@#~!? this bloke is. However, all the expat saw was a couple of gents enthralled by his discourse, obviously agreeing with all he said. This tacit agreement that was being demonstrated added to the confidence the lager was giving him. At the height of his speech a couple of interesting observations were made which started with the phrase, and I will tell you something for nothing. At the end of the evening the expat left full of himself and happy with the couple of converts he left behind in the bar. Whilst I didn’t understand the language the locals continued their conversation in, it was pretty obvious how they felt about the guy who just left the bar.

This started me thinking about how people communicate in general where the goal is to engage with team colleagues or customers. Some simple rules to consider;

  • When communicating, do you talk at or talk with people?
  • When trying to influence and/or engage with others it is better to make them the focus of the conversation
  • Nodding doesn’t always equate to agreement, check it out

…..and finally if someone tells you something for nothing, that is probably all it is worth.


Your window to The World

Your Window to The WorldI was driving down the M4 the other day and spotted a rather interesting livery on a removal van. To protect the innocent I won’t mention the name of the company but it is necessary to mention that the company name started with an A as in A……… Removals. The livery on the rear of the van in large font was A…… Removals Surprisingly Economical, written vertically with the capital of each of the four words in a different colour so that they stood out. My first reaction was a double take then a smile. Then I started thinking more widely about the message being transmitted. Having worked for a large blue chip company I applauded the freedom of choice as I am sure the decision was not made by committee and signed off by compliance after checking with a marketing control group etc. etc.

Then I started, rather surprisingly, thinking all of the red tape probably has a place in our lives. Why? Because I started to think what does writing the word A..E on your vehicles really say about you and your business? It might mean that you are fun to be with, it might mean that you are a risk taker, it might mean that you snub your nose at authority, hey , you might even be the type of person that I might like to share a drink with, BUT the $64,000 question is do I want you and your mates to look after my flat screen TV or my mum’s knick knacks which are not valuable but are irreplaceable , the $64.000 answer is probably not.

Like most personal and business relationships we are all judged not by our intention but by our impact. So whether it is those answering your phone, your front office staff, the way your management team lead your people or a few words painted on your van, it is not about what your intentions are, rather, it is about the impact this has on those that you are trying to attract or influence. What is your window to the world, your window to your customers (or potential customers) really saying about you?