Reading between the lines
Companies of all shapes and sizes spend large sums of money teaching sales techniques to employees and key executives. These trainings and seminars range from exotic and ostentatious workshops to informal and pizza-fueled brainstorming sessions. But no matter how different, all these meetings share a common purpose and ultimately, more often than not, also share one common outcome: unnecessary waste of time and resources unless they are willing and able to read between the lines.
Doing things differently
I take a slightly different approach when doing my job. I learn every day from the best possible source — my clients. The truth is, if you get your client to open up and learn what to look for, no amount of research and planning will match the insight you’ll gather during a routine client meeting.
I typically prepare for a client meeting by reading the detailed notes from the prior two sessions. I allow the meeting to unfold, but I do keep mindful not to drift from the issues the client wants to confront.
If you listen carefully, you may find a source of a problem, a hidden solution, behavioral patterns, hidden issues and maybe even the secret to unleashing someone’s sense of joy and purpose.
Knowing gives you power
My client Rose works as a senior executive in the professional services industry. Despite being exceedingly successful, she struggles building meaningful and lasting professional relationships. During one of our meetings, she asked me how come she found it so easy to play and socialize with colleagues but found it so difficult to work with them.
I asked her about her early social experiences and listened attentively, looking for clues.
She shared she had a wonderful and loving childhood and that from the ages of 10-14 her family went through a nomadic period, moving a total of four times. She told me she found it very difficult to feel a sense of belonging during that time.
Although Rose didn’t think experiencing so many changes as a child affected her professionally, the fact is that her problems engaging with clients, colleagues and friends may very well be a lingering defense mechanism against creating expectations and emotional bonds.
We connected the dots and concluded that she resisted engagement with colleagues because the constant moving during her childhood triggered a fear of attachments. As a child, she resisted engaging with other kids her age because she knew, subconsciously, that she would move again.
During coaching, we co-actively discovered that without true engaged relationships, business or otherwise, it was difficult to find common ground and build rapport with clients and colleagues, which resulted in Rose finding it next to impossible to do her job effectively.
If knowledge truly is power, Rose is now in a position to make more empowering conscious decisions. She still has a long way to go, but at least now she knows the source of her hesitancy for engagement and can do something about it.
The conscious mind represents less than 1 percent of our brainpower. The 99 percent is submerged below the surface— our subconscious mind. That’s where all of it brews — our choices, fears, obsessions and anxieties. So while we may try to teach and train the conscious mind, no 5-star resort convention, 8-step method, ancient secret or catchy mantra can fully reach below the surface.
Most of us struggle with some version of the fog of distress. It numbs our lives and interferes with our relationships, our careers, and even our health. Much of this distress stems from unresolved hurts, persistent low self-esteem or some vague sense of anxious unease. Even if we were blessed with wonderful parents and stable childhoods, at a young age we are unable to truly comprehend and resolve emotional hurdles. Things will hurt and scar us. We will experience things that may seem insignificant at a glance and that will seem to fade into the atmosphere, but later in life they will reemerge in the form of fear, self-doubt, guilt and other negative feelings.
These feelings can engulf our subconscious and affect every aspect of our lives for years to come.
What you can do
An initial and simple activity you can try to help you discover where your vague sense of unease comes from is to have an interview with yourself. Analyze your early and adult life with an open and non-judgmental mind. Dig deep. Did you experience any traumatic events in your life such as the death of a loved one or a car accident? Were you ever threatened, harassed or bullied?
Sometimes events don’t have to be considered traumatic to have a deep and lasting impact on your life. Even the most insignificant brush with uncertainty, such as Rose’s nomadic childhood, can reemerge during your adult life and prevent you from experiencing it to its fullest.
Live your life fully, joyfully and openly, and when you become aware of some sense of vague unease, acknowledge it and remember to have an interview with yourself.