One of the mantras in our leadership courses and companies where we work is “experience versus transaction”. What we mean by that is defined by this question. Are you providing to your clients a positive, rich emotional experience? Or are your interactions transactional, stuffy, and all business? If you lean more toward transactional, you may be in trouble.
Since most buying decisions are based on emotions and memory (see the books Thinking: Fast and Slow/Kahneman and Habit/Martin), it is vital that you create positive emotional experiences and memories on your projects and with all interactions with your clients and other project stakeholders.
What kind of emotional experiences and memories are you creating in your offices and on your present projects? Are your interactions filled with animosity, conflict, and anger? Are they filled with the stuffiness of just getting the business done? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then you can bet that you will not be highly considered for the next project. Picture these two actual scenarios from my experiences with two contractors:
Scenario 1. I walk into a contractor’s office. The receptionist doesn’t look up. The walls are bare. The furniture sparse. Finally she looks up and says in an exasperated way, “What do you want?”. I cheerfully say, “I’m here to see John.” She says nothing and calls John. I sit back down and wait in a shabby chair with a stained coffee table in front of it. Finally, after ten minutes, John enters and takes me down the hall to a conference room. The halls have grey walls with no color. There is no sound. No music. Nothing. It’s dead. As we pass employees, they don’t look up, don’t say hello, don’t acknowledge my existence. We arrive at the windowless conference room. It has grey walls and horrible furniture. The walls are adorned with Successories posters that say things like “There is no I in Team”. “Do you want some coffee?”, John asks. “Sure.” I say. “Kitchen’s down the hall.” So I walk down the hall and pour a cup of coffee into a Styrofoam cup, pick up one of the two cardboard canisters (sugar and “cream”) and pour the powdered “cream” into the coffee. The coffee is cold and the “cream” clumps in the cup. I pour the coffee down the sink and return to the conference room. We immediately start the meeting.
Scenario 2. I walk into a contractor’s office. The receptionist looks up, walks from behind the desk, puts out her hand and says, “You must be Mr. Darnell. We’ve been expecting you. Welcome! Please have a seat and John will be here in a minute.” I sit in a beautifully appointed lobby in a wonderful chair. In front of me on a coffee table is a book of this company’s projects. I leaf through it. On the walls in the lobby and in the halls are paintings from local artists. John enters after a very short time and welcomes me. We walk down the hall. There is beautiful music playing softly in the background. Everyone we come into contact with looks me in the eye, greets me and welcomes me. We walk into a beautiful conference room full of windows and light. It has artwork on the walls as well. I sit down on an Aeron chair. In walks two assistants with silver trays. One tray has a silver coffee pot with a silver creamer and silver sugar bowl. “Coffee?” John asks. “Yes, thanks.” He pours me cup and I put real cream into my piping hot, rich, black coffee. The second tray is filled with cakes, cookies, and petit fours. After some coffee and cakes, we spend a few minutes talking about my travel, accommodations, and how I was enjoying their beautiful city. Then, we start the meeting.
Which company would you rather do business with?
For these interactions to be successful, you have to make sure that your people have high levels of emotional intelligence, especially in the interpersonal skills. They have to relate to people in a positive way. That is what we teach. It is a teachable, learnable skill. So why aren’t you focusing on your people, their emotional intelligence and creating positive emotional experiences?
Of course, this not only applies to business. What if you lived a life that took every opportunity to create a positive emotional experience for everyone you come into contact with? What would that world look like?