Relatability a success mantra in life and profession

Relatability is a simple but powerful concept that means possible to understand.

By Shilpa Bhasin Mehra

Published: Sat 16 Jan 2021, 9:56 PM

Could I just ask you to think of someone you really admire for his or her strong communication skills, influencing skills and ability to easily and readily relate to a broad cross section of different personalities, different cultures, people at different levels in the hierarchy or people of different social standing to them? They just seem to make it look so easy to connect with others and to “win them over”, don’t they? What behaviour traits and what skills and strengths do you think make them so? Would you agree that their being relatable plays an important part in that?

Relatability is a simple but powerful concept that means possible to understand, like, or have empathy for others because of similarities to oneself or one’s own experiences. Context is critical, context to a challenge that you either have experienced yourself or could experience at some point in time.

No matter what your personal or professional or cultural background, would you agree with me that it is largely our EQ (emotional intelligence) and our ability to relate to and to communicate and influence a broad range of different people, situations and agendas that better facilitate our success in our work, in our play, in our business and in our life? Doesn’t making yourself more relatable with ease and with confidence, yet empathy, play a large part in better endearing you to those you wish to influence and associate with? To help you “win them over”?

I have personally experienced the power and advantage of being relatable. I was in a meeting with a businessman, who had a legal issue. He was not being able to converse and explain his matter. I quickly realised that he wasn’t very fluent in English and switched to Hindi. I could see how relieved he was and he spoke at length explaining every detail. There was a bond and understanding created many years ago, and he still contacts me for advice. Simple small things we can do to make the other person feel comfortable, it costs nothing and relationships are built.

Being relatable! This is one success mantra to follow in your professional, personal and social life. What does being relatable actually mean? It could mean all these — making it easy for people to connect with you, projecting an easy-going aura; a friendly and a positive attitude; and a smiling and affable demeanor. It could also mean that you are known to be easy to talk to; people are able to easily warm to you because you aren’t threatening or known to be confronting; you have empathy for them and their position, irrespective of whether you are in agreement or not; and you aren’t assertive or you don’t take a strong position to what matters. Besides, those around you would acknowledge you are readily approachable, making time to listen and talk to people.

The importance of relatability is crucial in the Covid-stricken world. While we cannot have interactions over a coffee and meetings are only on video conferencing, it is pivotal to be relatable, to strike a chord across the distances. In today’s world of social media where businesses are being conducted, many websites, campaigns, case studies, brochures ignore to create the context for the problem, thus failing to establish a connection.

A good start is to be more humane and contextual in how we communicate with our target audience. So, review your website, new brochure, or campaign through your ideal customer’s eyes. Would he or she be triggered to stop everything he is doing and make that call to discuss how you can help he or she make a difference? Remember, relatability is the cornerstone of connections.

Fortunately, relatability is not something you need to be born with; it can be acquired and enhanced. I can only see benefits flowing from it, not drawbacks.

Because of the force majeure situation that we are living in now, everything has become relatable. Social distancing, masks, quarantine, retrenchment sanitisers etc. But do we need such a crisis situation to be relatable? I think not.

It’s crazy how quickly a stranger can become important to you, and how quickly someone who was once important to you can become a total stranger. It’s all about relatability.

Shilpa Bhasin Mehra is a legal consultant based in Dubai and the founder of Legal Connect

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