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Business chemistry, empathy and engagement

bltcommentarywebConsidering the chaos of today’s times, I’m motivated to learn more about effective engagement and communication. I landed on the concept of business chemistry, which includes self-awareness and empathy. It begins by identifying which personality category best describes you:  Are you a pioneer, integrator, driver or guardian? These personality labels provide a great initial tool for self-assessment and reflection, but they’re also useful in supporting how we connect with others.

These personality labels guide how we effectively interact with others. But obviously they are influenced by culture, background, and experience. The art of empathy focuses on growing the ability to walk in the shoes of others in order to enhance communications and build deeper relationships. Self-awareness includes the ability to cater your message while having the empathy to understand others.  So true business chemistry, as related to emotional IQ, is the ability to cater the delivery to ensure that the message is heard.

It doesn’t matter how eloquent I am, if the audience doesn’t understand the words I’m saying. Multiple studies find that over 90 percent of a message is delivered nonverbally — meaning our words can be overpowered by our tone, body language and other factors.

Why they don’t come

Over the last several months, we’ve been busy conducting multiple professional development sessions in light of Hispanic Heritage Month. One of the most common questions we hear is, “We invite Latinos and they don’t come, why?” Although the words maybe in Spanish and you are extending an invitation, Latinos may not necessarily feel welcomed or accept that the event is meant for them.

Let me explain.

Hispanics, come from more than 20 different countries, so they have a diversity of nationalities that adds to the complexity of the segment. Additionally, they are influenced by their level of acculturation, which is the spectrum measuring how they are adapting to the culture. A recently arrived immigrant, say from Peru, is Spanish-dominant, shops in Hispanic supermarkets, consumes Spanish news, transacts business in Spanish and has much less trust in unknown entities and organizations. Priorities are tied to basic services, such as housing, education, employment, etc.

Someone, like me, who has been here for over 30 years, tends to be more acculturated to American customs, consumes media in English and conducts business in English predominantly. I prioritize different issues in comparison to someone that’s been here for just a few years: i.e. social justice, quality of life, balance of work life, etc.

Therefore, addressing a recently arrived millennial requires different messaging and tactics than addressing an acculturated Latino living in the U.S.

Let’s dig into this further: You translate a flyer for a health fair, job fair, or an open house, and you post it or you promote it. Surprisingly, very few Hispanics, if any, show up. You and your team are frustrated because your outreach efforts are proving unsuccessful.

Let’s address some basic questions: Did the flyer include the right “Spanish?” At the right literacy level? Did it include images? Were the photos of people who looked like Latinos? Was the event distributed to locations, social media pages, and/or groups where Hispanics congregate? Was there an influencer who “promoted” it? Think about it; the minute J Lo shares that a certain juice helped her lose 10 pounds, the world jumps and purchases the product. She has sponsored the product, and the public is influenced by her input. So, who is your J Lo?

‘Shift the Work’

Understanding the motivators of your audience or their journey is instrumental in cultivating a meaningful relationship. This is the art of empathy. If our employees are concerned about health insurance being affordable and we continue to emphasize the perks of “free popcorn, or casual Friday,” we are at odds.  What matters to them? What’s in it for them?

That’s Sales 101.  It is not about features, but benefits.  What benefits the audience?

I highly recommend you read Baltimore native Joe Mechlinski’s bestselling book, “Shift the Work: The Revolutionary Science of Moving from Apathetic to All in Using Your Head, Heart and Gut,” where he tackles the crisis of disengagement and provides tactics that can be immediately incorporated.

Amigos, engaging Latinos, actually engaging PEOPLE in general, is not rocket science, despite all the studies in neuroscience.  It’s about having the self-awareness to know who we are and understanding our audience, then having the empathy and patience to relay our message in a way that matters to them.

Veronica Cool is founder of Cool & Associates LLC, a business management firm specializing in financial wellness and diverse segment marketing. Her column appears each month in The Daily Record and online. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @verocool.