Thursday 13 December 2018

Gina London: 'Discover and share those gifts we're all born with'

The communicator: Gina London
The communicator: Gina London

Gina London

Okay, folks, just in time for the holiday shopping season, here's your opportunity to claim a gift! An important reminder of this incredible opportunity flashed my way earlier this month when I was in Florence, Italy. The morning sun shone unseasonably warmly as I sat on a balcony overlooking the renaissance dome of the city's famous cathedral.

I was in town to facilitate a conference. Another woman, whom I'd joined for a coffee, had organised a separate conference that was running alongside. As we sipped our espressos, I mentioned that next year I'd be happy to provide a communications training workshop on presentation performance for her participants.

"But don't you think it's a gift that some people just have?" she asked.

"Not at all," I hastily replied. "Purposeful communications is a skill that can be trained and practiced like any other competency."

But now, back here in Dublin. I keep replaying that conversation in my mind. I think she is right. Engaging communications is a gift.

Yes, it is something that needs to be nurtured and developed, but it is also a gift.

Think back to when you were a little child and every story you told was the most exciting, most thrilling, most important thing ever. Eyes wide and mind open, you embraced the world with anticipation and enthusiasm.

Each one of us is born with the gift. Yes? No? Well, let's examine this notion.

1 YOUR GIFT IS UNIQUE TO YOU

Whether you were an outgoing, animated child or a more introspective and thoughtful youngster, you saw the world fresh through unjaded eyes. You experienced birthdays and holidays. Tremendous joys. Tragic losses. That's the gift. The collection of experiences that each of us has.

Your collection is special. Different from anyone else's. Draw yourself inward and catalogue your experiences into an anthology of meaningful stories. You are wrapping your gift and preparing to share it with others.

(Yes, I know sadly, sometimes children don't directly express themselves socially, albeit due to autism or another disability, but with the right assistance, I'm convinced their unique gifts can be unlocked too.)

2 YOUR GIFT CONNECTS TO THE GIFTS OF OTHERS

Seek to find ways to connect your stories to the stories of others. This is an active, not passive, ongoing exercise. It involves sharing of yourself, and deliberately becoming curious about others.

Finding common ground or building rapport with other people is really just discovering places where our unique stories intersect.

Last week, I worked with a group of executives from a large aviation-leasing company. During their on-camera introductions, it became apparent that nearly every one of them owns a dog.

The shared anecdotes around this seemingly trivial piece of life can form meaningful bonds.

Don't be afraid to share some of your more dramatic and vulnerable stories either. As loyal readers will already know, my dad died when I was a kid.

This week, at a first meeting, a new contact and I swapped stories of personal loss. Stories about my dad and stories about how her brother died unexpectedly.

This might seem like simple conversation - not purposeful communications. But your awareness about the power that this kind of sharing brings with it is part of taking responsibility for your gift.

3 YOUR GIFT GROWS CONTINUALLY

Take your time. Don't rush this awareness development process. Layer on your skills slowly and deliberately. One communication event at a time. I once had a client tell me that a previous consultant had told him that he "didn't need any more training". That he was perfect just the way he was. Fascinating. I disagree.

Until we're dead, we can all work to better connect. Better value others. Keep developing our gift. All the time.

Maintaining your communications edge takes effort. If you keep using the axe without sharpening it, it will become dull.

Likewise, it's important to keep seeking feedback and course-correcting yourself. Remember, you are never not communicating.

4 YOUR GIFT IS FREE

Don't get lost in the hype. There are so many new innovations and apps and devices and services that promise to "revolutionise" the way you do business, you can easily feel confused and overwhelmed. Which should you invest in? How many? At what cost?

One gadget isn't going to change your world. Only you can do that. Invest in yourself.

As you go to the shops, or browse online for holiday gifts for others, make sure to give yourself the gift that gives back to others in so many ways.

It's time to claim your gift.

TIP OF THE COMMUNICATOR CAP

In other news, and knowing that I always want to celebrate as many dedicated purposeful communicators that I can, I can't let this week go by without a shout-out and tip of The Communicator's cap to the wonderfully helpful Aisling Molloy at AIB in Cork. I had an unfortunate fraud attempt in one of my accounts which resulted in my card being blocked for security measures.

But one quick call to Aisling and she helped walk me through and expedite procedures which gave me great relief since I was about to jump on a plane to Sweden. Thank you!

  • With corporate clients on five continents, Gina London is a premier communications strategy, structure and delivery expert. She is also a media analyst, author, speaker and former CNN anchor. @TheGinaLondon

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