“I’m someone who owes his career to being in the room with my clients – that’s how I’ve made every sale, and grown every relationship, and – well, frankly I am terrified that I won’t survive in a remote world.” This was said to me and the others on the call by a 40-something consultant a few weeks ago. Even those on mute joined in the shared, solemn nod, and there was a feeling of relief as someone said the Thing that was too Scary to Say.
I’m writing this at my kitchen table in mid-November. In May, June and July some of my contacts acted as though things could be getting back to normal after the summer holidays; I had clients who were making room bookings for face-to-face behavioural training in September. But with the winter surge upon us, and people right across global organisations working from home, this is it for the medium term – and at least some of the old way may be gone for good. It feels like being on a boat and imagining it was a dinghy you could pilot quite sharply, while all along it was a cruise liner proceeding inexorably forward, and some of the passengers are going into quarantine.
The question for my consultant, and for all the rest of us, is this: “How different is the new world?” We should take some comfort from this fact: though our priorities have been radically reordered for us more quickly than most could have imagined, the fundamental needs of humans don’t mutate at the same rate. Your clients want to know they matter to you, that you are still on their side, that there is space in your agenda for their needs; your team wants to feel seen and heard, their contributions to be recognised; your boss wants to feel confident that your resourcefulness is available to her. And everyone you work with will be more likely to call, message or Zoom you if they know you are prepared to bring energy and empathy to each interaction.
Sign up here for ‘The Charisma Key’, my next interactive Zoom training session, at 1400hrs GMT on Wednesday 2 December. We will be looking at how to build a charismatic impact from home, using timeless insights into what people want from human communication, and learning practical things you can do to truly connect in today’s remote world. Be ready to engage – it’s a workshop not a lecture, fun because it’s demanding, and not a podcast you can multitask over. I look forward to meeting you.
“Content was relevant, exercises revealing! I will change my behaviour as a result of the session” (Senior legal associate, summer 2020)