I had an unusual experience a couple of days ago: I got nervous right before a client presentation. It was more than the typical adrenalin surge that happens right before I hit a stage, or stare into a live camera with a reporter on the other end. This was the real jitters.
The funny thing is that I was on the phone with a friend with whom I’m partnering on this proposal, as we waited for his client to come on the line. So you’d think I’d be even more relaxed since my pal was there with me. He happens to be kicking-“a” in his own consulting practice, and I have a high degree of confidence in him– someone I’d trust to carry the entire conversation without me. To top that off, the workplace Emotional Intelligence program we’re presenting is so authentically from our cores that we don’t need scripted pitches. Not only do we know our stuff– we “are” our stuff. So what’s to be nervous about?
It was tweaking me out until my partner blurted “You know something weird..? I feel a little nervous!” I confessed, too, and we had a good laugh…and then given our line of business, we launched immediately into a dissection of what was happening.
Turns out we were each concerned about doing our best for the other, motivated by mutual admiration. It wasn’t nerves about our proposal or the client. It was our self-imposed pressure to impress each other causing the adrenaline spike. Duh.
But you know, that acknowledgment enabled us to put our reaction into a context, rather than associating it with fear or threat. The anxiety defused immediately. Amazing. And ironic, given that we were just about to pitch an Emotional Intelligence program. LOL.
I wish I could say the story had a happy ending with a thrilled client and a new contract… but unfortunately the client wasn’t able to join the call. To be rescheduled…
There are some happy points, though:
1) these Emotional Intelligence skills really do come in handy;
2) mastery of these skills is an ongoing practice… even for the “experts”;
3) and that inevitably, we each end up eating our own dog food, so it’s important to make sure it’s tasty.