When we attempt to connect with people, we need to make it relevant to them.
We need to connect to their stories.
I often encourage audiences to consider their job performance from the perspective of whom they serve. If I am speaking to teachers, I want them to think about the impact their teaching has on their students. I encourage corporate audiences to envision the service or product they provide for their customers. And while this image of service delivery can help get a conversation started about effective relationships, it lacks a certain urgency. It can end up being a rather academic exercise of “us” providing for “them.” Disembodied. Devoid of emotional connection.
To get a bit more “buy-in” to the exercise, I have asked faculty to consider their children (or partner, or grandmother, or some other person close to them) sitting in their classrooms and in the classes of their colleagues. Once they have that image, then I ask them about job performance. Are they satisfied with the level of competence, energy, and passion that their loved one receives in that setting?
It’s the same question but with a tad more relevance.
You have seen signs like this before:
Even as you ease off the accelerator, do you feel a connection to the “children” the sign references? Maybe.
I recently spied this sign as I walked around the sleepy community of Cedar Key, Florida:
Now that caught my attention. Why? Because that sign makes an emotional connection. It has a better chance of being relevant to the drivers (the “audience” in this case) passing by. For parents, they can see the faces of their own offspring.
That sign reminded me that when we attempt to connect with people, we need to make it relevant to them. We need to connect to their stories. Think of politicians (those you support and those you do not) with large followings. Chances are great that they establish an emotional association with the people in front of them. Some use that for good and some for ill. But all make the message meaningful.
What can you do this week—for a positive purpose—to help your audiences feel the message you have for them? In fact, how will you go beyond mere understanding to emotional connection? How can you make it personal? How will you remain relevant?
Check out my latest published article released this week by NISOD (College of Education, University of Texas). I propose thirteen questions to consider for faculty development. For my corporate readers, substitute your job title (and those of your followers) wherever you see “faculty.” Keep the conversation practical, purposeful, and personal.
Video recommendation for the week:
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
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My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.
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Handmade sign on Riverside with same message. It has always caught my eye for the reasons you mentioned! Good post! Mimi
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