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What Is Being Relatable?
Being relatable. You know, making it easy for people to connect with you? Projecting an “easy going aura”, a friendly and a positive, “smiling and affable” demeanour? That you are known to “be easy to talk to”? That you have “an attractive personality” that has people easily “warming to you” because you aren’t threatening or known to be confronting? That you have empathy for them and their position, irrespective of whether you are in agreement or not?
That no matter their background, their profession, their seniority, their rank or their social standing, you are able to “raise or lower your language to theirs”? Why? So as to strongly connect your communication with theirs in order for them to better want to “get” what you are driving at.
That is not to say that you aren’t assertive or that you don’t take a strong position to what matters. But that those around you would acknowledge you are readily approachable, making time to listen and talk to people, no matter how stretched or stressed you are? Particularly if you are a leader of people?
Was that always so for you? Is it something we are born with? Or is it something we learn and develop as we go along?
As you are reading or hearing this, how strong would you say your awareness of this communication trait and soft skill is in you? And if you acknowledge that this isn’t one of your strengths, does that matter to you?
What Makes Being Relatable?
Could I just ask you to think of someone you really admire for their strong communication skills, their influencing skills and their ability to easily and readily relate to a broad cross section of different personalities, different cultures, people at different levels in the hierarchy or people of different social standing to them? They just seem to make it look so easy to connect with others and to “win them over”, don’t they?
What behaviour traits and what skills and strengths do you think makes them so? Would you agree that their being relatable plays an important part in that?
Two Examples of Being Relatable
I remember two specific environments or situations where the value of this became very clear to me, both of which I’d like to share with you to illustrate the power of relatability.
The first was in the environment of multilevel marketing, where the successful “recruitment” of distributors to consume products and services and promote the value of doing so to others was critical to “develop a network” of growing numbers, in which everyone profited. This necessitated the persuasion of and working with people of the most diverse backgrounds, professions and skills levels. Irrespective of background, success depended mainly on one’s belief in themselves and having “good people skills”.
I was a senior corporate executive with a 30+ year success track record in a range of global multinational organizations. Of course such roles are accompanied with numerous perceived “big ticket trappings”, including the “I am a somebody” attitudes that come with that.
Hence, other than to fellow corporate players, I was not very relatable to a great many of the people in my own network and within that of the “down-line” that I had sponsored into their business. I needed to learn to present and project myself and interact with them “at their level” of confidence and communication comfort. While I could more readily afford access to the best tools and advice etc, not everyone could. And when we all went for coffee or dinner I needed to behave in a way that was “duplicatable”. Many couldn’t afford what we might have preferred to consume, and so there was a risk that they thought they were unable to build such a business, if they couldn’t operate “at that level”.
It taught me to develop a strong awareness of others’ situations, that helped me assure I was duplicatable. Being more relatable.
The second situation was when, after my small to medium sized enterprise (SME) consulting training, I had been set an appointment and was sitting across the table from a “fish and chip shop owner” trying to establish how I might be able to assist them in growing their business. I mean, come on – do they know who I am – a senior executive for a global multinational? Not very relatable to such a small business owner, right? I had to work very hard on removing any hubris from my attitude. I had to make myself relatable to this person so as not to intimidate them. And I had to learn a different language from the exaggerated levels of corporate sophistication. One that they could relate to and that made me relatable to them in terms of recognizing that I really did appreciate the challenges of the environment they were operating in. And that I could add value to what they were looking to achieve. More importantly, that they wanted me to add that value.
Of course I very quickly changed my target audience for my business, but thank goodness I learned a very valuable lesson from that one meeting. Today, I can very easily make myself relatable to any size, form or level of small or large business owner or executive.
Is Being Relatable Teachable?
It was in the environment of these two examples that I was able to develop myself in what I consider to have been the best possible personal development system in the world. One that taught me the value of mentoring, paying for good advice, associating with people I wanted to learn from and whose success I wanted to emulate. All while I was “in the trenches” learning by application how to make all this work for me. It also introduced me to the discipline of reading at least one personal or professional development book a month, something I have hungrily and fastidiously stuck to for almost 25 years now.
But not just to read such books, but to apply their learnings into my everyday life and work – every day. Hungry to learn and to “fetch” what it was to develop the most successful version of me I could be, it drove the amalgamation of theory and practice into desired outcomes, accompanied by the right goal setting and attitudes.
Today I am acknowledged for my “soft skills”, and for most of the being relatable traits I outlined at the start of this article. However, before I commit hubris here, let me quickly assure you that while this is primarily of value to me because of how I am able to leverage its insights into the people just like you and me that I coach, it affects my relationships with everyone that I really care about. Particularly my loved ones, which matters most to me.
No matter what your personal or professional or cultural background, would you agree with me that it is largely our EQ (emotional intelligence) and our ability to relate to and to communicate and influence a broad range of different people, situations and agendas that better facilitates our success in our work, in our play, in our business and in our life?
That it isn’t only our “vertical” professional skills, but our “soft skills influence” and our attitude that drives our altitude? Doesn’t making yourself more relatable with ease and with confidence, yet empathy, play a large part in better endearing you to those you wish to influence and associate with? You know, to help you “winning them over”?
If you see the value of this but aren’t sure how best to go about developing or achieving this very learnable skill, why not contact me and Let’s Talk Coaching?
Here are a few more related blog articles you may be interested in that were referred to above:
- Smile – it suits you
- Managing Up
- Managing Agendas
- Attitude Determines Altitude