When we’re kids we’re taught how to show and tell. As adults, we need to learn how to show without telling anything. Demonstrate who you are and what you believe in simply by the way you act, the relationships you create, the content you put out, the conversations you have.
I can tell someone I’m generous or I love sharing, or I can buy her a cup of coffee when we get together to talk about possibilities at my awesome little coffee house.
I can say that when it comes to developing relationships, it’s important to help people, or I can tell you that I’m available if you have kids or friendswho are interested in what I do and could use some words of advice or a potential introduction.
You can think you know your clients’ wants, needs, likes and dislikes and have inside information about their personal lives, or you can keep track of their birthdays and anniversaries and kids’ milestone dates, and send a cupcake, or a bottle of wine, or a three-foot kosher salami. Especially if you know they loved the last three-foot kosher salami.
Your story isn’t what you tell somebody, it’s what you show them. It’s not what you say it is, it’s what they see it to be.
Give your audience credit. Then give them extra credit. You might be telling what you think is a great story, but they may be hearing something different. If you think you’re covering up your hard sell with soft questions or relatable stories, they’re probably seeing right through it.
Is there a chance people are walking away from your meetings disappointed? How can you know? What can you do?
Self-awareness can be really hard. I’ve found role playing is one of the best things you can do to practice self-awareness. Set up a “meeting” with someone you know and trust, even someone you love. Someone who won’t hesitate to tell you what you need to hear. Have them play the role of a potential client, and see what they play back to you. See what they tell you your story is by what you say and how you act.
You can do the same with trusted clients. You don’t need to do fake meetings. Ask them about when they first met you, what they felt worked and where there was (and still is) room for improvement. Even doing that, employing that level of transparency, can be a great way to show them what you’re made of and advance your true story in their minds. Cement your relationship and make it even better.
I’d guess that much of what you’ve read in this post is intuitive and you may know it already. What you may not know is if you’re bringing it to life in the way you think you are.
Telling your story is about how people experience it, not just what you say.