“It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
And that’s what gets results”

I have that song going around and around my head. And you probably have too now. You’re welcome. If you haven’t, well, I have embedded the video below (I am that kind).

You see, it’s not just what you do, it’s also the quality of the effort of what you do. Micheal Breen does a really good example with shaking hands. Someone who just holds on a little too long (I am sure you have met them…).

Sadly this is something I am all too aware of. One of the reason I got interested in NLP was that I was a shy person who had no idea how to really talk to anyone. I would either sit in silence or ramble on and on and on and on and on to fill the uncomfortable silence. NLP was an excellent way of both improving my mental state (and therefore not feeling so shy), and teaching me better ways to communicate and build rapport.

The problem is I misunderstood a key tenant of rapport – there is a golden rule that is often talked about, and that is “we like people who are like ourselves”. I got stuck on the word “like”. I thought to be effective at communication everyone had to like me. I had to stand under a shower of unadulterated praise.

I would do all the “right” things when it came to the content of my communication, but I would put too much effort into it to get people to LIKE ME! And I would act like an over excited puppy. This over eagerness to please, and the desire for positive feedback, had the exact opposite effect to what I was after – people didn’t like me, they actually found me irritating. I didn’t do this every time, but I tended to do it when I felt it was important that the person liked me (oh the irony).

Very slowly I realised 2 things:

1. Feedback was a major issue. I was lacking sensory acuity (a fancy term for paying attention AND knowing what to look for). I struggled to read people, so I would demand overt feedback that the communication was working (that I was being “liked”). If I didn’t get the feedback I was expecting or hoping for, I would ramp up what I was doing in an effort to get that feedback (either say more things, or ramp up my state and say things louder and faster and with more animation).

2. But the most important thing that it took me much longer to finally discover (far too long), is that often, if you aren’t getting the results you want, you need to tone it down not ramp it up. In a strange way the secret was to not care too much (in the politest possible interpretation of that phrase) about whether the person liked you or not. I would often do that strange thing that if I was talking to a group of people, most of whom seemed engaged, but one person was not giving me the feedback I expected (or craved?) I would home in on that one person and start ramping up the puppy dog to get the response I wanted. This, of course, would have disastrous effects. Not only would I have the exact opposite effect on this one person, I would lose the rest of the group as well!

Anyway, why am I going on about this now? Well I still, to this day, mess these things up (I am only human). I have recently been reconnecting on LinkedIn with some old (in some cases very old) contacts. And with one contact, in hindsight, I realised I went all “puppy dog”. I did all the right stuff (I think), but I was way too enthusiastic in my replies. So if that person is reading this, this is a public apology for getting a bit carried away (it would be funny, wouldn’t it, if the person I thought I had been a bit overly enthusiastic with thinks it was fine and someone else thinks I am talking about them?!).

The picture is of my dog when she was a puppy.