Have you ever noticed that people act differently in the office than out of it? It seems that people put on their “work personality” and leave their real one at home. I suppose I know why but I just want to scream – STOP!
I am not suggesting you bring inappropriate behavior into the workplace but a little more of the real you could actually help rather than hinder your career. This all came to the front of my mind after a recent email from a client.
I was ¾ of the way done with a project when my client emailed requesting a change to the title of the presentation; a change that would have made it an entirely different presentation. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about this email.
I decided that it would be easier to handle this ‘possibly touchy conversation’ over the telephone (side note: I always handle touchy conversations over the phone or in person to reduce miscommunication and ensure tone is read as intended), so I grabbed the phone and dialed her number. I expected to get her voicemail; what I didn’t expect was her outgoing message.
At the end of her voice mail she asked the caller to also leave their favorite motivational quote in addition to their message. It completely caught my attention and I jumped right in. “You’re never fully dressed without a smile,” I spouted off after the beep and then asked her to call me back to discuss the revisions. “That’s pretty cool,” I thought. “She’s showing her interest and curiosity about me and she’s not even on the phone.” After I hung up, I realized that I was smiling… from her voicemail. The message I left was also rather upbeat and happy; pretty much the opposite way I was feeling when I dialed her number.
When we actually did talk, the conversation went very smoothly and the changes were resolved without tension. We chatted about the outgoing message and she shared that she changes the question on her voicemail each week. She’s asked about favorite 80’s bands, favorite ice cream flavors… you get the gist. She told me that some people call up just to hear her new message. Imagine that… people actually wanting to hear what you have to say on your voicemail. She also volunteered that her boss was a little hesitant in the beginning, but he’s since come around after seeing how well people respond to it. This is definitely something to keep in mind; know your corporate culture first before doing something like this on your work line.
That being said, this doesn’t have to be confined to the office. To be honest, it shouldn’t be. Think about what you can do to initiate small talk and build connections at your next dinner party or even your kid’s soccer game. My sister, for example, has a great voicemail on her houseline. (Okay, so I’m on a voicemail kick this week.) My little niece is yelling in the background, “We’re not home. Leave a message.” Adorable; it makes me smile every time I hear it.
Connecting with people helps build rapport and strengthen relationships. They both had a very cool, creative way to share a little of their personality. What are few ways you can bring more of your personality to your interactions and build rapport; whether it’s in person, on your voicemail or even over email? I’d love to hear what you come up with!