June 19, 2024

You Lost Me at Hello

Remember the movie Jerry Maguire? Renée Zellweger blubbers to Tom Cruise, “You had me at hello.”

But when meeting new people and making a connection with them is how you make a living, what are the chances that the connection is made that easily or quickly?

To have someone at hello, everything your Knower/Judger knows has to align with everything the other’s K/J knows. But as participants in my Clarity Summits learn, our K/Js are full of things imprinted by culture and family.

Some languages don’t even have words for concepts that are easily spoken in other languages. For example, though the Japanese have what’s considered a very compliant culture, they have no word for the English word “compliance.” The Eskimos have no word for “war.” The Pueblo Indians have no word for “religion.”

Then there are the familial imprints. Which way the toilet paper leaves the roll (my personal favorite). Our concepts of money (Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad is an excellent treatise on this). Our opinions on sex. Diet. Religion. Gender bias. How we treat salespeople. How we interact with our fellow man (birth order, parenting, and siblings all contribute to this).

So I ask again: what are the chances that all these stars align and you find a person (girlfriend, new client, new boss) who can truly say “You had me at hello”? Not very high, I’d say.

When interacting with new people who may be important in your life, you have the benefit of a blank slate. They don’t have any opinions of you nor you of them. So far, so good. Now the fun begins.

You stand before each other puffing out your K/Js, feeling around for synergy. Take, for example, a man who was walking across a bridge and came upon another man standing right on the edge, about to plunge to his death. The first man shouted, “Stop! Are you a Christian?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I am.”

“Well so am I. Are you Catholic or Protestant?”

“I’m Protestant.”

“Well so am I. Are you Episcopal or Lutheran?”

“I’m Lutheran.”

“Wow! I am too. Are you ELCA Lutheran or Missouri Synod Lutheran?”

“I’m ELCA Lutheran.”

“Me too. That’s amazing! Were you LCA or ALC?”

“I’m LCA.”

“I can’t believe it. So am I. But tell me, are you a German Lutheran or a Swedish Lutheran?”

“Swedish Lutheran.”

To which the first man said, “Die, you heretic!” and pushed him off the bridge.

If you keep comparing your K/Js, you’re simply guaranteed to find the disconnect.

So how can we handle early conversations to avoid losing people at hello?

Stay in your Learner/Researcher persona. The more you espouse your K/J knowledge of the world (as people sometimes do to impress new contacts), the higher the likelihood that you will trip over one of your new important person’s rules of life. And while the meeting might end civilly, getting the second one may be difficult because you’re just not one of them, and you’ve proven it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I suspect there’s no environment where improving trust and understanding pays off better than in these early relationship conversations.

Meeting someone new? Leave your knowledge at home. Resist the judgments and connect. Worked for Jerry Maguire! Now show me the money!

2 thoughts on “You Lost Me at Hello

  1. Kim:

    Just want you to know I eagerly await and read your stuff each month. If you´re drawing a blank on who this is, I was a brief MAC Toastmaster about a year ago before moving to Madrid, Spain for a job in international tax planning. Never before has the balance between K/J and L/R been so important than my first month in this position. Quite the case study, really. Due to the vast amounts of new data that need to be processed (new “European”-style etiquette with clients, managers, getting the particulars of Castilian Spanish etc.), being a L/R is a full-time job. Still, there are times when as a foreigner people test your knowledge all of a sudden, and the K/J has to emerge for a moment. Continuously striving to find balance here, and the framework you lay out is essential in that mission.

    I can´t speak for others, but I would say that my K/J was much more active in the U.S. Here in Europe it is pleasantries/liesurely introductions most of the time and then BAM down to business and then back to liesure. KEY: The consequences of missing these transition cues are grave–it´s life or death if, as you mention, these situations are your living. The K/J needs to be there as a tool, it has to be ready for deployment, yet it is used only in short spurts. People can smell judgment/discomfort from a mile away so like you say it really does need to be left at home ESPECIALLY when meeting new folks. If you need it for a minute, go grab it from home with your Inspector Gadget arms, use it, but then put it right back.

    That´s all for now, just a note to let you know your framework is being deployed internationally! Don´t worry, no copyright infringement, solely for personal growth. I also can comfortably assure you there are no international tax risks here for housing of intellectual property offshore.

    Hope all is well and I´ll share more concrete examples of the “K/J” vs. “L/R” framework as they come.

    Take good care Kim,

  2. Craig,

    I’ve learned that probably the biggest “filter” limiting our K/J’s model of the world is cultural. Liberal/Conservative, Right side of the tracks/Wrong side, Christian/Muslim, etc. Certainly people in Europe are not raised the same as people in the US. To some degree I can see why the K/J judgments are more ingrained in our US K/J’s. I can see how I was raised with the idea that “winning” being very important (and indeed tops Marshall Goldsmith’s list of habits that keep business executives from being “great”).

    I would love to engage you in a little more formalized investigation of EU vs US cultural differences. I remember talking with business executives in Malaysia about the eastern concept of “NO” when I wrote the Power of NO book….same thing….it’s HARD WORK to get your own K/J neutralized long enough to make that crtical connection. Add to the mix the body language and facial expressions of the K/J added to the words we might be able to withhold, and we can be really busy trying to stay in our Learner/Researcher.

    Thanks for the comment, Craig….visit us sometime when back in the US!


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