As a result of attending Pine & Gilmore?’s 2010 thinkAbout and focusing so much on The Experience Economy, it got me thinking about the experience that others have when they meet me (both Steve and Steve as Forrest Gump). Furthermore, I wondered if it’s possible for you to create Gump-like experiences for the people that meet you?
I previously wrote how Forrest Gump had 3 key personality traits that really made him a special human being. Those traits include: integrity, presence, & receptiveness. Now let’s combine those 3 traits with the idea of Experiences and develop a way for you to create Gump-like experiences for the people who meet you.
After all, didn’t you feel good the first time you met Forrest Gump? What if everyone who met you had the same great feeling you had when you first met Mr. Gump?
First and foremost, let’s accept that the feelings of others (their experience) when they meet you is based more on your behavior than anything else! Accepting 100% personal responsibility for how others perceive you is the critical first step. Wanting others to respond positively isn’t enough … You need to give them a reason. Don’t expect them to have to work hard at liking you. Make it easy for them to at least enjoy the interaction. Just like Forrest made it easy for others to like him and enjoy being in his presence.
So having accepted responsibility, here are 3 ways you can create Gump-like experiences for the people who meet you and elicit that positive response we all want.
- Integrity. “A promise is a promise,” so said Forrest Gump. The key to allowing other people to like and trust you resides in the words that you speak. Do you make small promises that you don’t intend to keep? Being polite is one thing, but somehow we say things others want to hear when they are really little white lies or commitments we know we cannot keep. Instead of the blithe assurance, “I’ll call you next week to get together” or, “I’ll finish that report by tomorrow.” why not say simply, “It was nice seeing you today” or “I’m swamped, I don’t know when I’ll finish the report … when do you absolutely need it?”
- Presence. Be in the moment. Do you remember the scene in the movie when Jenny threw the rocks at the home she grew up in? It was an emotional outburst for her. Forrest calmly let her emotions play themselves out. He didn’t try to stop it. When it was physically over, Forrest gently seated himself next to her and let her know he was there with her, for her – he was present. Do others get the feeling they’re being heard when you listen? Do you allow people the space to express themselves when they’re in your presence?
- Receptiveness. One way to be receptive is to be interested. When Forrest first met Bubba, he was receptive to the idea of shrimpin’ by being interested in Bubba’s story. He didn’t argue, he didn’t tell Bubba why the shrimp idea wouldn’t work, he didn’t talk over Bubba and start telling his own story of playing football, or Jenny, etc. Forrest was genuinely interested in Bubba – he was receptive. Do others find you receptive when you’re listening? Do you know how to show that you are interested?
Forrest used integrity, presence, and receptiveness to create a great experience for people who met him. Of course it didn’t always work … in addition to having great lifelong friends, as well as rapt audiences while storytelling on a bench, Forrest was also mocked, ridiculed, laughed at, and dismissed at times in his life. But the approach Forrest used was consistent whether it worked or not. Forrest was 100% responsible for who he was being.
It seems that the key to creating great experiences for others is shifting the mindset from yourself to them. Try actively thinking about what the other person is experiencing during time with you instead of being wrapped up with what you are thinking, feeling or experiencing yourself. Shift your focus from trying to be interesting to being interested.
What will happen next may astound you … your experience will actually improve by simply focusing on their experience.
What experience do people have when they talk with you? What could you do differently to give others that Gump-like experience when they have time with you?
Next Blog Title: Thinking outside the box … Gump style
Next Blog Date: October 14, 2010