Who doesn’t love birthday cake?

Russell-oct-30-02

Russell-0ct-30-01

When my name is called, I walk onto the stage.  This time it was pretty grand, with a bright spotlight on me.  600 people. I know friends that would pass out under these circumstances, but I think I thrive on it.

The auditorium was filled with suit-clad businesspeople.  The atmosphere was ever-so-serious.  I am a Public Relations executive, and I am here to talk this properly British crowd about constructing relationships in the marketplace.   They are all expecting a Power Point presentation with some of my tips to connect with clients, media, and the general public.  But I’d like to throw them a curve ball…

“So, there is someone very special here today who is celebrating their birthday.  Please, join me in singing the birthday song”.   I see a lot of confused faces in the crowd as they mutter the words to “Happy Birthday”.  Like a conductor, I make eye contact with people, and gesture for the quiet ones to sing with gusto. As the song progresses, everyone gets more into it, and the last few notes sound almost like a professional choir.  A huge burst of laughter and applause.  THIS is what I was looking for.

“If today is your birthday, please stand up”.  Three people stood up.  “Have we ever met?” each person said “no”.  So I reveal to the audience that I did not know whose birthday it was, but in a crowd this size it was bound to be somebody’s.   The purpose was to get everyone to sing together.  It’s an ice-breaker that warms people up to each other and actually gives them a moment of mirth.  “The point was to do something in conjunction, and feel good about it.  Singing in choirs produces that feeling, and the emotion comes from a hormone called oxytocin, which we produce in activities like this one”.

I am not proposing for my clients to go into the boardrooms of the world and break into song, but rather to understand that oxytocin is the key ingredient in constructing new relationships, because it’s the basis of trust.  Yes, I did go into some PR jargon, but I did give them my tips from the inside out:

-Handshakes, eye contact and when appropriate, hugs are a key element for relationship building.

-L&R-  Listen and Respond.   To acknowledge the other party that they’re being heard, also builds trust and further expands the conversation.

-For yourself, wearing an oxytocin booster such as Conneckt can further increase the process of relationship building, make you more receptive to dialogue, and perhaps even give you more self-confidence.

I greatly recommend the “Happy Birthday” exercise.   65% of the times, I also get treated to birthday cake.

Russell-oct-30-02

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