How does one pierce the hearts of others and in effect, make themselves memorable and influential leaders? This question has been explored by marketing research companies for decades and debated by some of the world’s greatest philosophers for a millenia. For the sake of time, I’ll make it brief and share the cliff notes of creating unforgettable and special memorable connections.
We easily remember the products and people who touch our hearts. For better or worse, we are sentimental creatures. By examining the word sentimental from my other language, French, I see the words senti (from sentir, meaning to smell, taste, and feel) and mental (from mentale, meaning mind). By this definition, it’s appropriate to deduct that as sentimental creatures we recreate memories in our minds through reliving the emotions and sensations we originally felt.
Navel Gazers: Striving To Relate
Professionally, we get so caught up on making our own ends meet and surviving through the career food chain that it’s easy to make every interaction about ourselves: What can we get, how we can use this relationship or opportunity to get us to the next mark, how someone is taking something from us – or whatever, we’re all (from time to time) navel gazers. Caught up in this deafening loop of self aggrandizement, we lose sight of our relatability and how we make other people feel.
First, take a look beyond our own belly button and ask, “How relatable am I?” As leaders, do we know how our employees and colleagues feel and think about our common goals? Striving to achieve common goals is one of those workplace catchphrases that everybody throws around, like loyalty, commitment to the team, blah, blah, blah. They’ve been jam packed into every leadership development spiel that they now no longer resonate within the hearts of workers. Relate means to be brought back and to be connected to. Can we safely say that we’re relatable to others in the workplace? If not, then we’ve lost their hearts and minds.
Winning Hearts: Nurturing Good Thoughts And Feelings
Making memorable connections within the business context is all about winning hearts and minds. After having taken a cold, hard look at ourselves as leaders and realized how we’ve succeeded in watering down the words and concepts (such as loyalty, teamwork, vision, and innovation) that should, in concept, resonate and relate powerfully within the hearts of our team we now have to fight hard to win those numb hearts back. While we can’t be in complete control of how people remember us and our ideals, we are in control of what we put out and the amount of effort exerted into building rapport.
I’m not talking about getting people to fall in love with us – although, that would be nice – I’m just talking about meeting people where they are at, honoring them, and working mindfully to assure that what we say and do are attached to the most empowering and positive feelings.
For example, we’re passionate about some work projects and not so much for other projects. We go on crusades to influence employees and colleagues to take up our passion projects, too, and make the fatal mistake of ignoring their passions and what’s important to them. I know I’ve made this mistake before…
Honoring others isn’t a bleeding heart, boot-licking concept, it’s about just saying, “I get what you’re going through. I may not know what your exact experience is like, but I know the feeling.” This simple phrase can snap out emotionally and mentally numb navel gazers and can, at first, win their attention.
Seeing The Opening: Creating Memorable Moments
Now that we’ve got their attention, it’s possible to influence with integrity and go forward together – the courtship for their heart has commenced. Once a person realizes that we know how they feel about certain things about their job and how they feel about and perceive their work, we can – hand in hand – bring them into our worlds by employing the feelings, issues, and thought processes that resonate best within them.
Nurturing trust and rapport is an essential step towards building positive associations between ourselves, our ideals, and others. Go back to a time when someone has said to you, “I feel you”, “I hear you”, or “I see what you mean.” These cues are little signs that help us know that we’re connecting on a sentimental level and these types of moments allow us to insert, during another person’s most receptive moments, our own ideals and emotions to get them experience our passions for themselves.
Making The Connections: Building Rapport, Positive Associations, and Influential Moments
We don’t have to be social scientists or great spiritual masters to be memorable and influential leaders. We can call BS on our own flimsy ideals and behaviors, meet people where they’re at emotionally and mentally, and be open to making meaningful, heartfelt moments. Anyone who tries to separate emotions and feelings from work is dead in the water. Our passions are what drives us in the workplace and if we can’t relate to what others are passionate about and appreciate (if not empathize) with them, then the chance of winning hearts and minds is lost.
Think of a great boss or colleague. Do you smile? Do you laugh? Do you get excited or feel confident? This person has succeeded in being memorable and odds are, they have inspired and influenced you to think, do, or believe in something by first relating with you on an emotional and mental level.
When I ask my clients to remember someone, they immediately go to an experience coupled with an emotion. To effectively lead, convince, and encourage employees, interviewers, and colleagues we, as memorable leaders, have to check our own intentions, meet them where they’re at emotionally and mentally, and tune into the optimum moment of receptivity where they’re most likely to lock in our words and actions with the positive feelings we’ve embedded into the relationship. Try it for yourself. You just might be surprised as to how memorable and influential you really are.
Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask Yourself:
1) Do I relate emotionally, not just logically with my teammates and subordinates? Do I really know how they feel about things?
2) Do I put relatable emotion and heart into the concepts I preach? Do I separate feelings and logic?
3) Do I put in time to not just establish, but build rapport within the team on a consistent and personal basis?
4) Do I notice how often my employees talk about how they feel, see, sense the world around them? What sensing words do they use on a regular basis?
5) Thinking of a great boss and a horrible boss, what are the feelings and experiences that separate the two? What techniques and behaviors did they use in building/blocking rapport?
Leslie Juvin-Acker is the contributing career and leadership expert at Malakye.com, a job board for the action sports and lifestyle industries based in Southern California.