In this article Kate Griffiths unpicks an innocuous phrase that is used by many and shows how it prevents real connection. She implies this could be one of the main reason you are not getting the level of success you are looking for in business. So take a moment to pause from the busyness of your day and check in to see if this applies to you.
Do you tend to ask people what they do when you meet them for the first time? And when you are asked that question is the answer something you have honed into a 30 second elevator pitch? Does it have the desired effect – do people go wow and hire you on the spot? I expect the answer depends on how authentic you are.
If you said yes to either or both of those questions then do not worry, you are not alone if you perform this ritual. I have not done a survey but I expect at least 70% of people do that. You may not even know why you do it. It could just be one of those unconscious habits you have adopted.
Ask yourself what are you hoping to receive when you ask that question? Are you merely asking the question so that the recipient will ask you the same one back and you can “strut your stuff?” Of course you don’t have to share any of this with me although I am curious to know but do take the time to be honest with yourself.
Here’s my working theory. Whilst some do ask this question, so as to get the chance to answer it themselves and so are not really interested in what you have to say, that is probably the minority. For many of you it is probably an unconscious filtering system; a way of finding out whether or not that person can be of use to you in whatever you are trying to achieve. If you are a connector you may seize on the info as a way of working out who to connect that person with in your own network.
All of this can be very helpful and that’s a great start. Now ask yourself – can a person really sum up the key elements of who they are in 30 seconds? No of course they can’t so when we ask people to do that, we are being reductionists. We are asking them to categorise themselves so that we can put a label on them and then file them into one of a number of boxes. What those boxes are and how you use them will be unique to you and is not what I am interested in here.
What fascinates me is how effective that way of being is? And as way of an answer I am going to share a story of something that happened to me at the beginning of the year. I was engaged in some speed networking, not something I do often and I came across a woman who did just what I have described but to extremes. She wanted to know what I did so being a little mischievous I gave her lots of seemingly incompatible one word answers and then sat back and watched. She was struggling to make sense of them and finding it extremely hard to put me any of her readymade categories because like most people I do not neatly fit in one box, I am a complex being with hats for many occasions.
So here’s what I suggest that you do next time you meet someone you don’t know. Ask them what they love in life. I can guarantee that their eyes will light up and they will share something much more intimate than the usual I am a facilitator response. It is also likely that you will discover that you have more in common than you could have ever imagined and your life will be richer for the exchange.
If you want to know more then join us for the inaugural Link4Coffee in Hitchin on Friday 20 June – a chance to get to know who is in your community so that you link, learn and grow on so many levels. We need new ways to connect that move away completely from the old paradigm and this is it. I wrote a whole piece on new paradigm networking a while back so check it out if you want more on this topic. Otherwise book into Link4Coffee in Hitchin – we already in double figures in less than 24 hours.
Kate Griffiths is a midwife who births new paradigm businesses. Following a career at PwC and prior to that as a Director within Higher Education, she now works primarily with conscious business owners and leaders that recognise the old paradigm way of doing things does not work. She helps them discover what the new ways of doing business look like. She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation. You can meet her at the inaugural Hitchin Link4Coffee next Friday, 20 June.