When we were young, my brother and I were avid autograph collectors. Dad would encourage us to do this to help us practice our writing.
Each time we wrote a letter to request an autograph, dad would encourage us to write a copy of our letter to keep as a record for our file. I seem to remember at the time this being a complete pain as I just wanted to send the letter out but he said it was important to keep a record so we grudgingly went along with it. (I still keep copies of letters today, habits eh?)
I recently came across my autograph collection which I hadn’t looked through in years whilst sorting out my loft and I was amazed at what I found; pages and pages of autographs from Neil Armstrong to Margaret Thatcher – together with copies of the letters that I had written all those years ago.
Now before you read on, you need to know this; when I was growing up I desperately wanted to be Han Solo. And to say that I’m excited about the new Star Wars coming out this year really would be the understatement of the century.
So, while I was leafing through the pages of my autograph collection I came across two autographs in my ‘Star Wars’ section that made me smile.
The first was from Harrison Ford – Han Solo himself! Here is my letter (sadly my writing hasn’t stayed this neat), followed by his response and his envelope.
Please note how my name is written on the envelope (I think I’ll forgive Harrison on this occasion).
Then I turned the page and saw an autograph that stopped me in my tracks. It was from Sir Alec Guinnes aka Obi-Wan Kenobi. Here is his reply together with his envelope:
While I was sitting there reading this in my dusty loft, I was truly stunned. I thought this: all those years ago, Alec Guinness had taken the time to reply to me, when I was just 7 years old, and even personalised his response by writing my name in his reply.
But that’s not all; I’m no handwriting expert but it even looks like he took the time to write the envelope too – and he even got my name right (not so concerned about the address!)
So here’s the thing…
We all have busy lives, but its important to treat people with respect. And to get the very best out of people – to truly motivate them – you need to put some thought and time aside and invest in the relationship.
The most inspiring leaders I have worked with all share this attribute – they are truly authentic and make time for their people and in return their people pay them back in bucket loads.
The thing that they all seem to do subconsciously is to make a point of always using someone’s name whenever they speak to someone. Just like my autograph collection, the autographs that were personalised and where my names was mentioned, like Sir Alec’s, just stood out so much more and were more memorable.
It may sound like an overly simple observation but I’ve noticed that not everyone does this when they speak to each other and I think it can make a huge difference.
Research suggests that as we get older, our ability to process and remember names decreases, to a rate of nearly 85% of people forgetting some names so it’s even more important to do this – unless you want one of those “Ah hello YOU!, how are YOU doing?” moments. (Some great techniques in the above link for help with name memory).
By the way, I am not implying that people who don’t mention or remember names are some form of Darth Vader Sith Lord who have gone over to the dark side, it’s just the way of things. We all have different styles and approaches, this is just an observation on what I have seen that appears to work wonders.
This is employee engagement 101 and it really isn’t a Jedi mind trick where you have to spend some time in a dirty swamp with Yoda to learn is it? Treat your people well – and be personable – and they will treat you, your colleagues and your customers well.
So channel your inner Jedi and try this mind trick: every time you have a conversation with someone, do a mental check to see if you have mentioned their name, and if you haven’t, subtly drop it into the conversation.
It doesn’t have to be “Hello, LUKE, how are you LUKE? Dreary weather today eh LUKE? How’s that amazing Lean Six Sigma project coming along LUKE? etc. etc. but rather “Hi Luke! How’s the engagement programme?”
Weave this Jedi mind trick into your daily business and you’ll be a ‘force’ to be reckoned with.