I recently received a great complement from a client. As part of an email she wrote “One of the things that I like about you is that you’re not perfect, you’re human. And you’re comfortable with letting that show.” That simple comment validated that I could be me, be respected and be relatable, all at the same time.
There is nothing more rewarding than a client or teammate who can relate to you. Unfortunately many of us are so worried about being an expert that we hide our flaws and missteps. I believe that is a mistake. When other people perceive you to be an exception to the “human” rule they will think “It is great that she can do that but I will never be able to” or “Sure it is easy for him; he has a talent. I won’t be able to figure it out” or worse, “Wow am I stupid compared to her”. When our clients and teammates go there, even unconsciously, we lose the ability to connect with them. And without that connection there isn’t as much trust. Less trust equals less success, less repeat business and fewer referrals.
In case you’ve fallen into the “perfect expert” role, here are a few tips on how to show your human side:
- Share silly stories – I love sharing life stories that make people laugh. Even ones that are not related to my expertise. I have found that telling people things about my past (like I used to live on a catfish farm) make them feel at ease. Everybody has life stories that happened along the way to where they are. Share them; it will help build rapport and teamwork.
- Don’t hide your past mistakes – No one becomes an expert (or even an adult for that matter) without making lots of mistakes. Your clients and teammates can benefit from them. Share the mistakes you made and what you learned from them. I know I always like to learn from other people’s mistakes. It saves me the time and trouble of making myself. An added benefit of sharing your mistakes is that people won’t be as hard on themselves when they make their own. Mistakes will be viewed as just part of the process.
- Speaking of process, talk about it! – How you conduct business or run your team is straightforward to you. But your clients and teammates might be floundering around trying to figure it out. Or worse, making incorrect assumptions. Show some understanding and discuss things like confidentiality, expectations, conflict resolution and how you get from point A to point B. Nobody likes to deal with a black box where things just magically happen or to stab around in the dark looking for an unknown target. Be transparent about how things work. And if you aren’t sure – you have some homework to figure it out!
- Show the real you – Nobody likes a phony. If you act like an “all knowing” expert it will turn people off. They will be looking for chinks in your armor. Show them the chinks directly and they will be a non-issue (in fact you won’t even need the armor). People understand that no one knows everything. You only need to know more than they do to be helpful to them. That is all it takes to be an “expert” in their world.
Do your clients know the real you or have you been afraid to show them for fear of their not respecting you? You will gain much more respect by being transparent and open than you will hiding behind a curtain of “expert”. When people feel like they really know you, they will trust you, do more business with you and tell their friends about you. And that will lead to more success.
How do you connect with people? Have you tried strategies that haven’t worked? Share them with us in the comments!
Tags :being human, building your business, Champion Performance Development, connecting to clients, creating success, Doc Robyn, getting more business, getting more referrals, making mistakes, Robyn Odegaard