Yesterday, at the closing of a sales training class for one of our major clients, the host trainer from the client graciously asked participants to say a few words for me, as the external trainer. This is not something that I expected, and being a naturally introverted person, this also put me in an awkward situation. I know that most of the time any participant would be glad to share some appreciative comments, to which I am grateful (though frankly it may prove to be difficult to keep a humble face and not feeling smug at the same time).
But of course some participants chose to differ. They took the opportunity to give me a piece of their mind. Publicly. If receiving praise is somewhat embarrassing for me, then getting a ‘constructive feedback’ in public is almost beyond description. Nevertheless, I appreciate every opportunity to learn and to improve myself.
One especially critical participant stood up to speak. I could almost feel my heart skipped a beat in anticipation to what he was going to say. He started to summarize some positive words from other participants about me, like ‘is always smiling’, ‘never criticizes’, ‘welcomes humorous interjections’, etc. And with a knowing smile, he added, “But that is the way he is in a class. We don’t know how Stephen is outside the class.’
I wasn’t in any way bothered by his comment. It was actually a good reality check.
We sometimes put a different face for different audience. At work, we may put on a professional face when dealing with clients and customers. We treat them courteously, we listen to them, and we welcome whatever sharp words customers say as far as they concerned to the services we render to them.
Once we get back at home, we put on our real face. We get irritated when our spouse ask a question or require our help. We put aside courtesy and criticize our loved ones without regards to what they feel. We may be more likely to pay better attention to the people on TV, who don’t care about us, than to our spouse who want to have a conversation with us.
I consider that comment to be a reminder for me to be genuine, to be the same person wherever I am.
Jack Welch has this to say about being an authentic person. He says,
“The most powerful thing you can do is, well, be real. As in not phony. As in grappling, sweating, laughing, and caring. As in authentic.”
That is how a leader can influence other. Not just by being a great communicator, but also by showing his/her true self and values.
Dale Carnegie had this to say about building rapport to people around you, and to influence others:
“Be a good person skilled in speaking.”
The first rule in being a good communicator is to be a good person first. Anyone can be a fluent speaker. But can we maintain integrity to be true in whatever we say, or we still tend to put on a different self?
That is one question I keep asking myself.