Suck up to the Audience: It’s a Recipe for Success

Young SingersOne night on holidays we had a music ‘session’ which lasted for about 2 hours.  The youngest person in the group was 10. At 57, I was the oldest. Bridging that timespan in musical tastes can be a bit tricky.  But there’s one, sure fire technique that works; play songs which have been used in Kids movies.  King of the Swingers (Jungle Book), These Boots are Made for Walking (Shrek) and so on. It worked so well, that I have now received an official invitation to play at an 11th Birthday party in Finglas on April 11th, 2015. If you were just about to book me for your second wedding on that date – back off – my nephew sneaked in ahead.  Personally, I like Leonard Cohen and David Bowie.  But the kids need stuff that they could relate to. So, playing to the gallery was required. Hey, that’s show business! The interesting thing is that this lesson is 129% applicable in almost every social setting.

Cunning Plan: As a highly ethical executive, you might be thinking that shamelessly playing up to the audience and courting popularity is a tad manipulative.  But, here’s a different twist on it.  In 1954, Dale Carnegie published ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. The core thesis = if you want to influence people, talk to them about them – not about you. Wean yourself off the standard conversational diet ‘How I saved the world’ and other hugely interesting stories. As a bonus, you will never be ‘stuck’ for a conversation topic for the rest of your life and people will think that you are really interesting (because, of course, they find themselves interesting).

Turns out that sucking up to the audience makes sense for most of us, most of the time. Not in an inauthentic way – you don’t have to feign interest or agree with opinions which you find distasteful. But you do have to acquire that hugely underrated skill, listening (and understand the subtle but important difference between listening and interrogation). If you are not sure of the difference, just go on a date with someone who is a trainee therapist. It will be a long night! (and, not in a good way).

Other People: The root of this is that you have to be genuinely interested in the other person’s point of view – not always relating the ‘latest’ war story in your own life. Drama works great – on stage. In the office or factory it just becomes boring when the same person keeps playing the part of the Hero (or the Victim or the Outraged Citizen who would run the country differently and so on).

Watch out for those 10 year olds. They keep reminding you of stuff you already know, but might have forgotten.



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