May 22, 2007
Can you fake being personal?
In our rush to offer solutions to clients’ problems we often (too often in my opinion) eschew the personal and embrace the professional. We really don’t get the value of being “ourselves” because somewhere along the line we’ve learned that to be ourselves is to not be good enough. I’m of the firm belief that there are no differences. What there are – are boundaries. People hire people because after they’ve assured themselves that you have the skill set to do the job, they want to be in a relationship with someone they like, feel comfortable with and ultimately feel safe with. All of that requires a large degree of self awareness and an ability to manage boundaries. It also requires that we be ourselves. You can try faking being personal but it won’t work. It never does.
I have a number of questions I ask myself when working with clients to make sure I’m “being myself”.
- What’s my emotional response to this client and to undertaking this assignment?
- Would there come a time in this relationship where I could share that understanding in the service of the relationship?
- Whose authority am I drawing on to make this client feel confident about working with me? My own? Or someone else’s?
- How do I feel about “not knowing” in the presence of this client?
- What is my motivation for working with this client? Money? Learning? Creativity? All three? something else? i.e. what’s in this for me?
Those basic questions help me to keep connected to myself and more importantly, they ensure that I bring myself to the relationship. Tricks and tools are great and important sometimes, but if I’m not sure of what I’m feeling and when, I can’t reach for what I need in the service of my clients. Unlike the customer in the advertisement above, I want to feel personally connected to my clients and it’s only in that frame of mind I can grasp how best I can give them value for their money.