You may be drinking your own Kool-Aid. However, your customers, prospects, and funders aren’t drinking it. At all.
The next time you make a presentation to clients, or are speaking with them via conference call, or however you communicate with them…. listen to yourself. . Is your message fresh, engaging, interesting and relevant? Are you talking WITH them or AT them? Have you become a “talking head”, providing broadcasts rather than dialogue?
I understand that we are all good, very very good at what we “do.”
We’ve spent a lot of money on our education, and we’ve gotten the degrees and the professional credentials that show the world just how good we are. So when did we get to the point where we became too “good” to listen to ourselves and learn from others, including our clients?
Or perhaps we have become too protective of everything we’ve “earned.”
We perceive new voices in our profession as competition rather than opportunities to expand the dialogue. We circle the wagons and find reasons to exclude in our circle of associates because the new folks are “not”.
Not an engineer, not an architect, not a graduate of the same institution, not on management track, not the top business development person, not in the business as long as we have been, not old enough, not young enough, not an entrenched member of our business community, not established. You fill in the blank: not _____.
Please put down your glass of Kool-Aid.
And perhaps your fears of being less relevant to your clients. Or exposing areas in which you aren’t as knowledgeable as you could be. Or that folks will think you are “not worthy.” Or worrying that you are losing your “edge” – whatever that means.
The point is: how can we become better at what we “do” by learning more from our dialogues with others? And we can’t learn more if we are only listening to ourselves. You know, waiting for our turn to speak.
Has our idea of “dialogue” turned into an “auto-pilot” prompt to wake up and “perform” when we are addressing others on all-too-familiar topics: “our” topics, our areas of expertise?
Do you find sit in meetings waiting for cues that signal it’s your time to join the conversation as the “expert talking head?”
You may not be getting the full value out of attending that meeting. Why sift through the conversation to determine how much of it is relevant to you? Rather, the entire conversation is relevant to them… perhaps you are only a small part of the whole.
You might learn something by shifting your dynamics. So might “they.” It just depends on what you are thirsty for. Your Kool-Aid or theirs……
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013-2016. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools and is available on Amazon. This post originally appeared in the August 2011 edition of the Civil Engineering Central Blog.