I just left an hour+ meeting with the Regional Vice President of a large insurance company. Boring, you may think. Nope, you’d be wrong. It was anything but boring. This gentleman has been in the insurance industry for 20 years and he just knew how to relate to people. All people. All six of us in the conference room. One woman was 50, one gentleman was 71, another was 50, two guys were 32, and me (I’m 46 ).
How not to be boring.
Meetings in a board room can be long, full of metrics and numbers, culminating with endless industry jargon that flies around the room like meaningless banter. Not this meeting. Yes, there were facts and figures spouted off, and how we are striving to bump our numbers up. But it was also a meeting that involved everyone. Everyone had a chance to speak up, to ask questions, to give their opinion and to be heard. How often does that happen? I suppose often enough, but many times we tend to listen and not speak up, for fear of not being understood.
How did he relate to each of us?
His ability to tell stories. That’s how. He had the uncanny ability to relate to each of us by sharing a story. One woman related to him because she’d met him before at a conference. One guy related to him because he’s a fly fisherman from Montana. I related to him because he carried two phones (an iPhone and a Samsung) and likes technology . My boss related to him because he’s been in the insurance industry for many, many years.
How do we become understood?
We relate to people on a personal level. A familiar level. Through personal experiences. This Regional Vice President lives in Florida. He had fabulous stories about sunny, private beaches and catching sailfish and showing us pictures, and $15 lobster specials at his local pub. Who can’t relate to a fishing story on some level? He was a master storyteller. One that parlayed his personal experiences into his job responsibilities. He connected with each of us on some personal level. And in turn what happened? We each contributed. We each spoke up and shared our views, our concerns and our questions. He understood each of us.
It’s magic when that happens.
By Carolyn Portanova