You are an artist. That descriptor doesn’t sound like your job title, does it? You are responsible for understanding and articulating, in language everyone can appreciate, how your core capabilities provide cross-functional value to your colleagues, your organization, and your clients. Clearly, you articulate via your soft skills.
If you are an artist, you are not limited to one or another set of specific skills to execute on your job. You are free to pull from all available communication and professional resources to get your point across. Don’t be limited by your job description. That description may not mention a thing about the importance of soft skills, other than asking for good writing and verbal communication skills. For whom? To whom?
Is this strategy part of your current professional arsenal? Let’s work on developing these crucial soft skills.
Artistry is what happens every time you attend a concert. You become part of the performance. You are not an impartial observer, are you? The adrenaline and anticipation and expectations of the audience flow towards the stage and meet with the energy and musicality of the performers. You both are engaging your soft skills!
Artistry happens at the interface between the two: audience and artist. Without this interface – this union of what is created and what is perceived – there is no artistry. Each performance is unique and distinct: yes, the music being played may be based on the same core set of notation; however, the musicians and audiences are constant variables. Each performance is subject to artistic interpretation.
Artistry uses soft skills to create something powerful. Here are some artistic strategies you can bring to each meeting you attend or facilitate.
1) Anticipate your audience’s energy. Which disciplines are represented at the meeting? Which soft skills will you need to negotiate? These are similar to different musical instruments being played. Do these instruments have a history of blending together or is there dissonance? Is their group performance value structured and traditional or does this team know how to jam and improvise?
2) Select the proper tempo for dialogue. Are you the conductor or will you also be a musician-participant? What soft skills will you use to draw people into the conversation? Use phrases like: “this person mentioned this need, yet that individual described the situation differently. What is the best way that we can articulate the issue?” You will engage people to traverse the sales-engineering interface® rather than remain comfortably in their siloed, discipline-driven camps.
3) Let “Aha!” moments of artistry happen. These moments occur when the meeting or conversation self-generates. Team members spontaneously and naturally ask each other all of the questions and issues you anticipated. They start to “jam.” Discoveries are made, new alliances are forged, you have guided folks beyond their biases and shown them what collaboration looks and sounds like. That’s when the sum total of your collective soft skills become powerful and mighty!
Soft skills can be powerful, can’t they? Start incorporating Tip 1 into this week’s meetings and conversations. Then layer on Tip 2. Let me know the differences in outcomes you and your team experience, together. Aha!
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, traverses the sales-engineering interface®, bringing entrepreneurial mojo to small and mid-sized Seller-Doer businesses and revenue-producing business strategies to startups. She provides you and your colleagues with an arsenal of collaboration tools and communication skills required for today’s globally competitive marketplace. She is one of the 2013 Top Sales & Marketing Influencers on Top Sales World Magazine. This article first appeared in the July issue of Top Sales World magazine.