What Introductions Can Teach Us About Trust

parachute jumpersI’m in Washington, D.C. this week, giving a Being Trusted Advisors training session along with the rest of our staff. There is an exercise I like around introductions.

Rather than the usual ‘let’s go around the table and introduce ourselves,’ we ask people to quickly state their company (or title/role if it’s an internal training), followed by two questions:

1. Tell the group how many months you’ve been with (company name), and
2. Tell the group an interesting tidbit or factoid about yourself—something a little bit unusual, quirky, interesting, not an every-day business fact about yourself.

I ask everyone in the room in random order to quickly answer the two questions. The debrief is then: why do you think I asked us to take X minutes doing this?

The usual answers are to establish a group identity, to begin creating trust, to get people focused in on the room. True, true, and true.

Then I’ll stand behind one person and ask the group: “how many months was Joe here with his company?” A few people remember; often they remember different numbers.

I’ll then ask, “What was Joe’s interesting tidbit or factoid?”

The whole group responds immediately: “Arrived late to his own wedding,” or “chickened out parachuting last weekend,” or whatever.

We have a good time with that one, talking about why we remember personal tidbits more than we remember data. But what’s really interesting is: so what?

What should we do with the observation that people remember personal quirks and stories and anecdotes more than they do objective data?

What should a client relationship manager do with that observation? A salesperson? An accountant?

What should you do with that observation?