By Heather Campbell >>
I was at a networking event recently; something I rarely do, as the idea of getting together purely to meet other people – rather than to work on or explore something that is a shared interest – still makes me wary.
One of the reasons for that wariness is that so many networking events are all about broadcasting to others information about ourselves – whether they want to hear it or not. This is the absolute antithesis of what I believe about effective communication and how to build good relationships, i.e. that engaging with others is more important and more productive for everyone involved.
Engaging with others is all about asking them genuine questions and taking time to be truly interested in their reply. It is about understanding the other person and giving them focussed attention. But in reality, at the networking event in question, the individuals who talked about themselves (often at high volume!) – without showing interest in those around them – were the ones who stood out from the crowd. Everyone was aware they were there.
As with many networking events, the purpose of this event was to gain new business contacts – and most people there had something to sell. I left the event feeling that those who had focussed on broadcasting to, rather than engaging with, others would be remembered for longer and have more business opportunities as a result.
Is this focus on being seen (and heard) and the continuing rise of doing exactly what I am doing now – broadcasting my ideas/opinions – creating a business world where the idea of listening to others as good practice is now outdated? Is it more effective to tell others about yourself rather than finding out about them? Is the person who pays attention to others, rather than only pushing themselves forward, at a disadvantage? I certainly hope this is not the case.
What do you think?
Dear Heather, I found your observation resonates with my experiences in some group contexts. My impression is that ‘broadcasters’ do appear to have the instant impact you describe on some people some of the time. I guess that this will impact on similar behaviour types to themselves who recognise and mirror the code. It would purely act to disengage me however. ‘Engaging’ must surely always be a richer level of conversation and ever for the default broadcaster must give them more information to enable them to pitch their broadcast more effectively if they at least spend some time listening. I hope it will always be the case that ‘broadcasting’ only has a short shelf life. I would like to know more about your ongoing observations on this subject because it is a live interest of mine.
Interesting. Sometimes one does need to broadcast in order to generate response. The problems come from continuous broadcasting without responding.
Many “communicators” seem to believe communicating and transmitting are the same thing. They keep one finger constantly pressed on ‘transmit’ and the other on “increase volume”. They are more visible and make a more immediate impression at events, but I doubt it is a very good impression, or that it creates much value, unless they match it with equal interest in others.
To me, communicating originally meant, and still essentially means, “reaching a common (and greater) mind”, a common understanding that integrates as many differences as possible without losing those differences, as Mary Follett said, describing the power of the community.
Marcial Losada found that the greatest and most productive team engagements comes from equally balancing interest in self with interest in others; asking as many questions as offering opinions and making six times as many positive as negative comments.
I wonder if apparently self-centred broadcasters at many networking events are interested in engaging or simply seeking an audience. On the other hand I also wonder if they are masking their own anxiety (internal negativity). best not to judge, but always interesting to wonder!