Have you ever sat there, at a family Christmas, birthday, or some other gathering, where everyone’s chatting, getting along, and then that one uncle commandeers the floor?
We all know what happens next – some questionable monologue with the apparent pretense of being comedic or something that just turns into an outdated (often mildly offensive), irrelevant or just downright dull diatribe, to a backing track of familiar familial groans.
As he ignores these and continues on with his disasterclass of audience retention, you drift off and suddenly it’s ten minutes later and you have no idea what just happened.
I mean, you can’t fault his confidence but that is the limit of the props you can give him. That feeling of dread as soon as he stood up to speak is testament to the effect that lack of connection or relevance can have when addressing people.
And here’s the thing…
It isn’t just with your family that this happens.
It happens at work too!
But, how do you avoid the dreaded uncle status when working with your team?
Well, you can start by focusing on just three key points…
Relevant and Interesting, Confident & Connected, & Positively Impactful
Unlike the 3 minutes that you just sat through on the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, that he somehow thought bore some connection to the conversation about what A Levels your cousin is going to take, relevance is a key part of your success as a leader of your team.
If your team isn’t focused on the tasks and projects you are currently undertaking, there is little chance you are going to have any real success and that direction comes form you as the leader.
It’s easy to go off on tangents in conversation and, whilst having personality and connection with those you’re talking to is important (as we will come onto later), you can’t let it override the main objectives you have as a business.
It is fine to add in your own stories and experiences, but the buzzwords for this are WHERE RELEVANT. If you are talking about a project you’ve run, by all means talk about a particular client experience where certain issues cropped up, but don’t then go on to talk about where you met them, what coffee you had, how you got to the meeting – that’s uncle territory right there.
Ask yourself – Do I keep it to the point, to make my point.
Hand in hand with relevance is interest.
Just as the 1690 Battle of the Boyne interlude was off topic, it sent grandma to sleep, and you into some sort of dream state. If it isn’t interesting, people won’t listen.
Simple as that really!
You have to engage the people in your team, pique their interest and retain it.
For example, if you are bringing back the coffees for the team, your customer experience in Starbucks (or your fave coffee shop), might be interesting to you, BUT you choosing whether to get a latte with Soy, Almond or Oat milk, however, does not leave anyone wanting to know more (even if the decision weighed heavy on you at the time!).
However, if you were addressing the same thing to a room full of vegans, you would probably have grabbed their interest and ended up with a huge debate on what’s best for what.
So, my point is that you need to think about who is in the room and what they are motivated and interested in. Understanding who is in the room and knowing what will get their attention will be invaluable in them engaging.
So, don’t feel the need to go on big, long stories with no ties to their topic as then you will see people start to drift off. Find out what floats their boat and bring it in to grip their interest and have them begging for more.
Connected and Confident
As I touched on before, it is important to build up a good connection with your team. Beyond motivating them, they should feel comfortable enough to come to you with issues and ideas.
This is a benefit not only to them, but to you, and can move your business forward leaps and bounds.
When you stand up to talk, you don’t want to be greeted with that same groan that met the uncle’s impromptu lecture. You want to be able to open up a conversation and invite your team to be part of what you are trying to achieve.
You don’t want them to feel like you are talking at them, or you may as well be talking about how important some historical conflict was in “ensuring the continued Protestant ascendancy in Ireland.”
Even writing that I can feel myself switching off! Just imagine how your team would feel if they had that sort of lack of connection every single week.
You wouldn’t want to hang out with people you don’t feel like you can talk to, and who do you hang out with more than you colleagues?
This may be the only redeemable feature of the that speech you had to sit through last Christmas.
Say what you want about it, there’s nothing quite like an uncle’s confidence in such situations, and if there is one thing of value, they offer it is this; confidence is key.
The more confident you are in what you’re saying, the more likely people are to take note of it. Confidence conveys understanding, it shows you have something worth sharing and it helps with the previous point – it creates connection.
Interestingly, it is not the “inner confidence” that you need to be “confident”, but when you have a belief in what you are saying, a desire to spread the truth, then you can be confident if you focus on this and not you!
It is often said that confidence breeds success, and whilst this cliché may have been somewhat overused, that does not make the general sentiment any less true.
Confidence is infectious, so if you stand up in front of your team and show confidence in your direction and leadership, there is little they won’t do.
Just believe in what you say, and others will believe in you. Don’t be like your uncle, be more Think Be Do.
OK, so we have all been there – the mood hoover in the room that has sucked the energy away with the negativity of their soul.
Not you, of course?
But here’s the problem…
So often we are not aware of our impact. We don’t think about it whilst we are going about our business. We don’t stop and ask ourselves often enough.
We’re oblivious to the carnage we may have left behind us when we say or do things around others.
But as they say in forensics – “Every contact leaves a trace”. And it works for this too. Every contact you have with anyone, will leave either a positive or negative trace. And the more aware you are of it, the more you will be able to make sure that the trace you leave is one you really want.
So, it pays (both literally and metaphorically) to be Relevant and Interesting, Connected and Confident, and Positively Impactful, and whilst the concepts may seem simple, many people still struggle to use them effectively.
If you want to find out HOW to implement these features in your business – message me on email@example.com or message me at www.linkedin.com/in/leadership-expert-executive-coach-training