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Nuance is important to our ability to connect with impact to our customers and our people. Yet, too often, we miss it, or completely ignore it.

Let’s start with what nuance is:

1 :a subtle distinction or variation

“Nuances of flavor and fragrance cannot be described accurately …” —Scott Seegers
“… these terms have certain nuances of meaning …” —Ben F. Nelms
2 :a subtle quality :nicety

“… the nuances of an individual’s voice …” —Michael Swaine
3 :sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value)

Too often, we design our engagement strategies and our communications putting everyone into a set of categories, for example personas. We send the same things to everyone. More importantly, we go through the same scripts with everyone. We listen selectively to what we want to hear, not what is really being said, and certainly not recognizing the nuances in the way different individuals express themselves.

But it’s through recognizing these subtle differences that we really connect with people. It’s the ability to recognize the differences, rather than missing or ignoring them, that provides massive impact in engaging people.

Understanding and leveraging nuance is important. It’s the ability to recognize everyone isn’t the same, that each responds differently in remarkably subtle ways, that each may not be consistent in what they do over time. It’s our ability to respond to these little differences in ways that are meaningful to each individual we seek to connect with. It’s through recognizing these differences that we set ourselves apart, differentiate, and create value with our customers.

So much of what we do in training, our sales and marketing programs, and the way we seek to engage customers seems to be going in the opposite direction. In doing this, we miss this opportunity for intense connection with our customers.

There are things we can do, competencies we can develop that help us better recognize and deal with nuances. Curiosity is fundamental. Active listening orients us to recognizing these differences. Empathy increases our ability to understand where others are coming from and recognize their point of view and emotions around the issues. EQ is an important concept in developing our ability to recognize and respond to nuance.

What are you doing to build your skills in recognizing and leveraging nuances in engaging your customers and people?