I have seen many bands play that somehow ‘miss the mark’ when it comes to holding my attention, making me feel good or simply enjoying what they’re doing.
They may have the most technically competent and capable musicians but it just doesn’t work.
Perhaps because they are so far into the technical aspects and musical integrity that they miss the key point of engaging their audience; they don’t hit the emotional level; they don’t stir people. Sometimes they play good music but fail to put on a show.
Music is just one aspect of life where we can confuse knowing something with being able to do it.
We may have the best qualifications, the best technical awareness, the highest level of training … but if we’re dealing with people we must be able to operate and engage them emotionally too.
This set me thinking about emotional engagement.
It is a highly complex process on which many papers and books have been written, but I think we can break it down into a few simple areas for the sake of this blog.
Emotional engagement is about acknowledging that others exist and have a point of view: When we allow others to have their say and express their point of view, we allow them to enter into a dialogue and to feel that they have (and what they say has) value.
I believe it’s also about capturing their interest; it is very difficult to participate with any level of sincerity in something that bores you.
I think the word ‘sincerity’ also plays a key part here. People do not engage, in fact they often shy away, if they feel they are being conned (or scammed according to more modern terminology). Nobody likes to think they are being taken for a ride or for granted.
‘Emotional’ involves feelings, those parts of us which so often determine our response to situations. If we engage with people in a way that produces a positive set of feelings, we stand a chance of taking them with us and getting their attention. Conversely, negative feelings will often kill our chances before we start and make it difficult in future. We must gain their trust.
Many people I meet in business are so focussed on what they are trying to sell me (be that a product, service or themselves) that they fail to engage me. Not surprisingly, my response is usually negative and I’m also wary on future encounters if they occur. The most successful people I meet (in business & in life generally) are those who treat me as a person or a friend and show an interest in me; a sale is so much easier based on trust … and so is a lasting relationship.
Businesses spend billions each year on increasing sales, often using slogans like ‘people buy people not products‘ but then fail to deliver. Perhaps it’s because we as a human race are becoming very egotistical and self-centred, becoming blinkered to the needs of others and just looking after ‘number one’. That is a short-term goal with long-term consequences; isolation, mistrust, inability to engage emotionally …. and that does not bode well for personal life or society as a whole.
People really do buy people but that will only happen as we begin to look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. After all, how can we sell to a market that we don’t know or understand or try to meet needs about which we know nothing or have not seen.
Beginning to apply emotional engagement in our lives can only enhance whatever we do and it will make our day (and the day of the people we meet) more pleasurable and fulfilling.
… and if you’re a musician and things aren’t happening, ask yourself why? Is it because you’re not engaging the audience (or is it simply because you are playing speed metal in a folk club)?
Until next time …