Everyone talks about how competitive the marketplace is now.  It is not enough to be technically good at what you do, to stay ahead you need something more.  It is not enough to network, you must be on social media as well.  It is not enough to provide good customer service, you need a marketing strategy to make the grade.  Organizations are busy hiring consultants and coaches – they are focusing on mindfulness and mediation.  The big players in our economy – Amazon, Apple, Google are using metric to measure the effectiveness of their teams and the ROI of their professional development efforts.

That is all well and good.  Naturally, I believe strongly in the benefits of professional development programs and the efficacy of coaching.  But really getting ahead, beating out the completion is easier than all of that.  In many instances the good old-fashioned stuff is still best – making a phone call, maintaining eye contact, mastering the art of conversation, listening when someone is talking (hopefully you know by now that listening is a skill and is much different from simply being quiet).

I was at a dinner last night where 50% of the adults at the dinner table were on their phones.  This is nothing new.  We have all seen the viral internet pictures of groups of people staring at their screens and the news articles about how Millennials don’t know how to communicate.  I am not the first one to notice this.

But seeing it for the umpteenth time brought it home and helped me connect the dots between how I am and why people respond to me, open up and look to me for guidance.  Since I am good at relating with people I am often accused of reading minds.  And usually I laugh it off.  I take my ability of knowing what the person is thinking before they say it, finishing sentences, and understanding their feelings for granted.  It comes easy to me.  But when I think about it more critically it is clear that it’s not actually a talent, it is a skill.  I do some pretty easy and obvious things when dealing with people who help me understand them and makes them feel understood, cared about and motivates them to work with me instead of the next guy.

I don’t multitask, I am laser focused on what they are saying (not drifting away with the thoughts of my own mind), I look into their eyes, I watch their body language.  People know I am right there with them and that they are my first priority.

Am I special?  Nope.  Can you do these things too and get more clients, provide better customer service, boost profits and beat out your competition.  Yep.

Will you do it?  I don’t know the answer to that one, but I hope you do.  It is much  more cost-effective than spending money on initiatives that you really dont need.