07 Oct Relationship Observations
Relationship Observations – “Keep Calm and Carry On”
It’s interesting (to me at least) that when I have a set schedule when I’m expected to write this blog, I find myself becoming much more observant about things, people and events. Oftentimes, these observations are ‘blog-worthy’. (Should be a word.)
It’s a bit like pastors. More than once I’ve heard a pastor, upon hearing an interesting or inspiring story, say “That’ll preach!”
Here are a couple of random observations on relationships and interpersonal dynamics:
Recently, my wife and I had dinner with one of her colleagues and his wife. They had recently relocated abroad and the wife had just landed a terrific job in international product licensing, which she was superbly qualified for. Her final interview had been scheduled for one-hour. Interestingly, it ultimately lasted well more than two hours, and afterward the CEO related to her that it was one of the very best interviews he had ever conducted and that, after a long search, she was the perfect hire.
In telling us that story, she added, “You know, the amazing thing about the interview was that I probably talked no more than 20 minutes in total. He talked the rest and only stopped because of another meeting.” (Small wonder he thought it was a great interview.)
I think the principle is a valid one and is applicable to our relationships (both business and personal) and our account management responsibilities. Generally the party that talks the most comes away with the most positive impression about the conversation or meeting. Certainly though, the party that talks the least is likely to come away with the most useful information. Transition Meetings™, Expectations Sessions and Transition Lite™ Meetings should all be heavily weighted toward the client’s communication. Conversations that contribute to the nurturing of valued relationships should skew the same way.
Changing course, I willingly proclaim that I love the English people. We live among them during a good part of the year in Eton, just west of London, and we enjoy our time there. Our daughter-in-law is English and that makes our new grandson a subject of the Queen. She and her family are warm, gracious and welcoming, but in all candor, the English, in general, are not necessarily known for that. Stiff upper lip and all of that.
While playing golf in Maidenhead on July 4th of this year, an older English gentlemen, realizing that I was American, came up to me and offered congratulations on winning the war. When it was clear to him that I was momentarily confused, he added, “The Revolutionary War.” If you’re American, when’s the last time you were congratulated on winning the revolution of 1776? Very dry humor. Charming and endearing, and made particularly so if you notice the twinkle in the eye.
We attend church at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. It is magnificent and oozes elegance, history and formality. The Chapel is the home of the Queen’s Honorable Order of the Garter. Services open with the procession of the Military Knights of Windsor. Henry VIII and Jane Seymour are entombed in the Quire. It doesn’t get any more “proper” than this.
Recently, in a homily, one of the Canons opined on a key difference between Americans and Brits. Americans, he stated, were more in touch with their feelings about issues and about life’s big questions. And, Americans also tend to be genuinely interested in how others feel about these same things. He went on to add, “Of course, one would never ask an Englishman or woman about their feelings. It just wouldn’t be done.”
I wonder if that could be why Royal Windsor shopping is full of pillows with the crown emblem and the caption “Keep Calm and Carry On” while the pillows in the shops in Granbury, Texas say “Howdy Neighbor” or “A Stranger is a Friend I Haven’t Met Yet.” It’s about vulnerability, openness, likability and genuine interest in others and in serving them. It matters, no matter the nationality. It works, no matter the setting. Styles vary, human nature less so, it seems to me.
I think feelings matter in the nurturing of relationships and that genuinely caring about the feelings of others is a big deal. Listening matters too, but you don’t get one without the other.