A while back, I suggested that we all put less stock in the ‘elevator speech.’ Fuck it, was my actual suggestion.
There seemed to be a collective sigh of relief about this. An interesting question that came in, from Atta, was about how to stay present when you’re in a room full of a bunch of people all trying to deliver their elevator speeches! Since so many of us know how awkward it can feel to try to perfect and deliver something that captures and expresses who you are and woos others, we can probably guess that when 20 people at a business breakfast are all doing this, it can make for a weird atmosphere of not quite knowing how to get to a genuine connection.
This week’s practice is about presence and deep and curious listening. This is extremely valuable, especially when you find yourself in one of those networking thingies that feel super forced with an excessively tan ‘motivational speaker’ you know nothing about who starts his intro with ‘what you may not know about me is…’ Yes, yes I do sound a little judgy. While I do encourage you to ‘not be that guy’, this practice looks at how you can not only tolerate staying in conversation with that guy, but how to get beyond it, since we’ve all had moments of what we’re expressing not totally aligning with who we really are and what we really want to say. There is genuine connection available, even when the context that brings everyone together may feel schmoozy. Watch below.
(If you want your own custom practice, please click here.)
When networking (or even out socially,) when listening to another’s pitch or even just while in conversation that may feel forced, surface or superficial, curiously listen past what the person is actually saying. See if you can listen for what their ultimate concern is, for what’s behind the words and emotional current that’s being projected outward. See if you can suspend your conclusions and be curious. See if you can find the part of yourself that can relate to the potentially more vulnerable or uncertain parts of this person. Can you feel a commonality?
After doing this practice, and you may find if you’re at an event that you’ve done it with several people, spend some time on your own to reflect on the following questions:
1. What pleasantly surprised me about this person as I stayed present and listened with curiosity?
2. What did they have to share or offer that was of value to me?
3. What commonalities did we share that may connect me more deeply with our shared humanity?
May this practice be a ‘way in’ to genuine and even unexpected connection with others.