John Gray’s popular book Men Are From Mars, Woman Are From Venus was lauded as essential reading here in England a decade ago. It explored the different ways men and women behave, in a light-hearted attempt to help both sexes understand the differing world in which each lives. The fact that the majority of divorce lawyers (including mine!) drive Aston Martins here leads me to question whether its mission was entirely successful. In any case – whatever your view on its contents – the book raises a point that justifies further examination in the experiential world of meetings.
Gray’s book focuses on the differences between men and women, but I challenge you to examine how every human you interact with lives in a world of differing experiences. These experiences lead to varied thoughts and feelings and ultimately affect the behavior of each and every one of us.
While science can’t prove that our senses give us each the same experience—can you be sure the color red you see is the same red that I see?—it’s how we feel about our experiences that I want you to consider. Such feelings rely on powerful filters based on our values and beliefs. These filters develop over time and are influenced by the social programming we are exposed to through our parents, schooling and culture. Developing this understanding could ensure that the next event is your best yet.
As a meeting professional, I suspect you have a clear view of what constitutes a “successful” meeting, but it is in fact the delegates’ viewpoint that is important here, and if their criteria and yours are poles apart, you have a problem. While it may have been the anthem to your first wedding dance, not everyone will share your enthusiasm in hearing Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell at the opening session or that, due to the recent weight loss you experienced on an organic-only diet, they will greet the carrot and celery sticks you offer in the breakout session with as much enthusiasm as you may have hoped.
Consider the criteria for humor: While recently presenting at MPI’s Gulf Meetings and Events Conference in Abu Dhabi on this very subject, I told the funniest joke in the world—hilarious, side-splitting, self-depreciating English humor. Or was it? The deadly silence that greeted the punch line, coupled with the blank, puzzled eyes of those in the audience, led me to consider that they weren’t sharing my criteria for humor at that precise moment, thus proving the main point of the session.
Our criteria for what constitutes a successful meeting as well as hundreds of other experiences such as a “good” joke, “appropriate” behavior and even “attractive” looks is of course entirely subjective and based largely on social programming.
Having outlined the benefits of being sympathetic to others’ ideals, I should point out that catering to them all is unrealistic. As a speaker, it is crucial that I, too, am aware of different values within an audience. I apply a very simple rule that has uses in numerous situations. Privately, I expect 20 percent of an audience to think I’m awesome, 60 percent to think I am pretty good and the final 20 percent to think I am poor. I wonder if you could find this a useful equation both in your professional and personal life. Twenty percent of your delegates/staff/customers live on the same planet as you and connect with you entirely, 60 percent visit occasionally and want to build working relationship with you and 20 percent have never even entered your galaxy, and no matter what you do, will never empathize with you. Understanding that some people are simply different has helped me to reduce my therapy sessions to just three a week and, in an industry that revolves around human interaction, appreciate how a colleague’s understanding of a term such as “ASAP” can differ from mine.
In your world, suppliers’ late deliveries are unacceptable and scream of a lack of customer service, but in their worlds perhaps it doesn’t; they chose to get the order right rather than rush out a potentially error-strewn delivery. Forget who was right; the disparity causes misunderstanding, which results in delays, stress and a breakdown in what had been a good working relationship. Perhaps a more pragmatic approach would have lowered the tension as well as your blood pressure.
Meeting people in their worlds is the first step to building rapport—the main ingredient in the recipe for building successful relationships—no matter which planet they live on.
JON BRADSHAW presents and trains internationally on a variety of subjects in the field of human performance, specializing in emotional state management in the corporate and sporting fields. He can be contacted via www.equinoxmotivation.com.
Se você está organizando qualquer tipo de evento na Espanha ou no Marrocos, entre em contato conosco ou utilize nosso portal com mais de 750 fornecedores de qualidade para pedir orçamentos gratuitos e sem comissão.
Com cerca de um milhão de vistas de página e mil pedidos de orçamento mensais, Event Planner Spain é o portal para organização de eventos mais visitado da Espanha, disponível em oito idiomas e com visitas de mais de 160 países. Se você que atingir nosso público-alvo, entre em contato conosco para uma proposta interessante.