get more things done by understanding our basic humanity

I just got off a great podcast interview where we discussed the need to be more human in our communications. More personal.

The days where you needed to appear professional at all times are a thing of the past. Today, the personal holds sway over the professional, and the natural holds sway over the stilted and confusing.

When was the last time this happened to you: you start a new project and assemble the various stakeholders in a room. The project manager had every go around the room and introduce themselves. They say their names, and then go into a stream of terminology, acronyms, and names of people that they work with, without any explanation or context? Example: “Hi, I’m Joe Smith, I’ve been with the company for seven months, and I work on the VGE team on the KHJ project with Allison and Patty.” This Joe says in his resonant and powerful voice (you think this guy could be on the radio) punctuating the acronyms and the names with authority (like they actually mean something). Joe is trying to impress the assembled team by telling them that he is working on significant projects (well, you do of course know that the VGE teams and the KHJ project, in particular, is one of the most critical projects in the company, right), and that he is working with two of the top people in the company (how would I know this?).

Then there is silence.

Most of the room may have no idea what these teams do and who these people are, but we all nod sagely, not wanting to feel like we are embarrassing ourselves by not knowing what the teams do and who those people are. I, of course, not knowing anything or acting dumb would say, “Sorry, I’m new here. What is VGE, KHJ, and who are Allison and Patty?”

Whenever a group of people is in the same room, there is all this jockeying for position within the group, and everyone tries to one-up each other. I don’t blame people, its just part of our competitive nature. But it usually gets in the way of getting things done.

An easy way to blow through this: get everyone on the same page by getting them to understand that we all have the same goal – to get this project done. I don’t care if you are the president of XYZ corp, I’ve been hired to get a job done, and that is what I will do.

Joe sounded professional, but he didn’t sound human. We are okay with treating Joe differently. He is a professional, and we expect more from a professional, right? Joe is also human (although I never specified that in my description, did I? Maybe he isn’t), and humans can make mistakes.

No human is perfect, and treating them like they are is a fallacy. We need to be less “professional” in our communications and more personal, more human. Not only is it what more people prefer, but it also allows us to feel more affinity with that person. They are more human and, therefore, more relatable.

Wouldn’t everyone prefer to work with a living, breathing, feeling human, instead of a cold, calculating corporation?