We’ve all met someone who has made us feel at ease. Their demeanor was courteous, kind, and humble. They were comfortable in their own skin and transferred that energy to us. They made us feel like the most important person in the room. Undoubtedly, we couldn’t help but admire their extensive interpersonal skills. This is the definition of a gracious advisor.
The hustle and bustle of business commerce has made graciousness an afterthought. Instead we rush from meeting to meeting and dismiss anything that doesn’t produce immediate gratification – that doesn’t add to the bottom-line.
But it is truly an art mastered by the best of the best. It’s a skill they have nurtured and refined. It is not easy, but can be learned over time. We witness this in the top professionals we coach. Advisors who are gracious create magnetism in their social circles – people want to be around them. Their reputations are pristine and their networks are plentiful. Members of their teams respect them and support them wholeheartedly. With such trust comes supreme personal and business success.
So, how does an advisor practice the art of being gracious? Here are a few tips.
· Facilitate Introductions. In social situations, ask yourself if anyone needs an introduction. If so, introduce people with positive energy and enthusiasm. Make them feel comfortable and welcome. Your introduction should be flattering yet sincere. Be a connector.
· Acknowledge and Return Favors. Always say “thank you” and look for ways to return nice gestures. Understand that the law of reciprocity is a force you must embrace and activate regularly. Surprise and delight those within your network and do so without expectation or obligation.
· Stand to Greet Someone and Always Say Goodbye. Be courteous when meeting someone (even if you already know them) and always stand to shake their hand. Maintain good eye contact and repeat their name. Before leaving a social setting, circle back to all those you met and let them know you appreciated their company. Subtly mention something you learned about them personally as you say goodbye.
· Smile More. We all radiate some form of energy. Smiling helps exude positive energy and draws others to you. Smile when you meet people, shake their hand, and maintain good eye contact.
· Be an Active Listener. Be attentive in conversation and actively listen to what others say. Ask them questions about themselves and show you are paying attention. Don’t plan your response before they are done speaking. Let them speak about themselves without interruption. Discover their passion points and bring them up in conversation the next time you meet. Be genuinely inquisitive of the people you meet.
Being gracious is a soft skill that takes time to perfect. You should strive to be gracious in all that you do. True graciousness means that you allot time for others. Your investment will earn you a reputation most cannot match and notoriety you could never buy.
Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders and coaches with The Oechsli Institute.