Listen and Adjust: How Navigating Your Business Relationships can be like Playing Music

Today’s blog post is written by Ellen Hindson, Education Specialist, Patron Technology.GUEST-BLOG-ICON

Don’t tell my old band and orchestra conductors, but one of my favorite things to do during long rehearsals with these ensembles when I was younger was to collect things they said – my friends and I would smile at each other and then quickly scribble their most memorable phrases in the margins of our music. The quotes were sometimes just plain silly, sometimes unintentionally poetic, but sometimes they were seemingly simple phrases that ended up being truly inspiring and transformative.

The three quotes below are actual quotes from rehearsals I’ve been in (I’m an oboist), and they’re words that were quite effective in their original context, but can also have a powerful effect when applied to business relationships as well.

Quote 1: “Lead like you mean it.”

In an orchestral context, this means that if the conductor wants the orchestra to play forcefully and loudly, she or he should gesture forcefully to elicit that sound from their players. Alternately,  a smaller, gentler cue will result in a quieter response from the ensemble.

In the office, this translates to leaders guiding by example: Exuding the attitude you want to inspire in your team, and speaking and acting with the energy you want to encourage.  

Quote 2: “When you don’t have the melody line, play more quietly.”

Finding balance between instrument sections in an ensemble can be difficult, but this is made infinitely easier when all the players are actively listening for the melody, and making sure they play their part more softly than the important melody line.

Similarly, listening to the tone and timbre of what your coworkers and customers say and making space for important ideas to be heard makes a huge positive impact on your relationships, and on the success of your organization.

Recently, I was on the phone with a client who sounded very frustrated, right from the very start of the call. I did my best to make sure she felt listened-to, letting her fill me in on the unique challenges she felt her organization was facing. I acknowledged those obstacles, and then steered our conversation toward personalized solutions. By the end of the call the client seemed to have transformed, so happy that she jokingly asked me “Ellen, can I send you a puppy?” as a thank you.* (I was *very* close to taking her up on the offer, let me tell you!)

Quote 3: “Make your phrases longer.”

Musicians tend to love details, a trait which is excellent for delving into practicing a complicated passage of music. However, when it comes time to prepare for a concert, the important thing is to get past the details and deliver a beautiful and cohesive performance to the audience. To do this, players must not only simply play each note on the page in front of them, but also play those notes with purpose, all the performers working toward a shared objective.

Playing a “longer phrase” in the context of your organization means deciding on the principles that define you as a company, and moving together toward a common goal, whether that goal is to entice young patrons to a new concert series, or increase your repeat ticket sales 10% in the upcoming season. You can apply this concept even more broadly – what is your company’s mission statement, and how are you inspiring your colleagues to fulfill it?

*This really happened!

(For more stories from delighted clients, be sure to check out the client testimonials page on our website)

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