I’ve been had two powerful lessons in communication this week. One was from the EMCC workshop I went to on how to build your coaching business. The other was from my newest colleague at SHARE, whose job as employment specialist is to help people with severe mental health needs to get back to work. What struck me was that both Natalie Carrick, presenting the workshop for coaches, and Peter, whose job may seem almost impossible to some people given the current economic climate, were talking about the same thing. Essentially they were stressing the centrality of focusing not on what you’re selling, or offering, or trying to achieve, but on the other person’s needs and on building a relationship based on their needs rather than your own. So as coaches, we may want to tell the world how coaching can transform your life and your business, and how our particular approach is of very special value – but that’s not the starting point. The starting point is how things are for the other person. There may be a role for us, or there may not. And my colleague knows that he will not source many jobs by going to employers and telling them about all the people with mental health needs who need to be working. He’s likely, however, to find success through understanding employers’ needs and matching them with the right people, putting in some extra support if needed. By taking the time to find out what really interests his job seeking clients, and sourcing jobs that will meet their interests and skills, they’re more likely to maintain motivation and prove themselves to be great employees. As far as consultative selling – as Natalie called it – goes, I met a woman at an event a couple of weeks ago. I was a bit late, and sat down next to her. She passed me papers, and afterwards we started chatting. I was interested in what she was doing – she’s a consultant working around employment projects – and the next day we spoke on the phone (she’s very diligent at following up). She visited the next week, and she showed such enthusiasm for SHARE, having taken the time to visit and talk with my colleagues, our clients, and me, that we’re extremely likely to hire her. She went a step further: having listened to something I’d said in passing about another project we were hoping to start, she rang to say she had some ideas and thought she could link us into the right people. Now there’s a business woman who’s going places!
This is good news for those of us who are more introverted than extroverted. I’ve sometimes worried that I’m not good enough at “selling” myself or my business, whether that business is SHARE or Beanstalk. I’ve felt inadequate next to articulate, confident people who radiate positivity about their brand or their message. How much more powerful is Peter’s quiet,empathic approach, and that of the woman who came along to listen and find out more and start a process of exploration.