The Emotional Connection: What’s Important

Make good decisions for the right reasons.

The past few weeks reminded me of a lesson that often gets pushed to the side. What’s important to one person doesn’t always hold value for another.

My 88-year-old Aunt Barbie was a delightful woman with a zinging wit and a fierce loyalty to those whose company she enjoyed. Sharing the journey through her final days taught me more about myself than I thought was possible. Her departure brings an end to a maternal generation.

My husband and I had the honor, difficult though it was, to clear Barb’s apartment. Thankfully, she had only lived there for eight years, and she had caregivers who helped keep the accumulation at bay. Still, the effort was tedious at times.

We spend our lives collecting stuff: experiences, memories, possessions, mementoes. Barb kept every card or letter she received … for years! Being cautious, and a little voyeuristic, we opened every bag and box to make sure we weren’t tossing something of value.

Most people don’t keep things unless they have meaning. There were cards, letters, photos, little gifts … all obviously important enough to her to retain. But, as we looked at each item, we had to make a judgment call—keep or toss. With no real clues from Barbie, I looked for things that might have historical family value. My husband didn’t have that background. He looked at things through a different lens, one without emotion.

As I pondered the experience on the long drive home, I realized that as marketers and business developers, we all face a similar situation every day.

We often have to decide whether to keep or toss. We make Go/No-Go decisions on pursuits. We consider adding a service line or entering a new market, or quitting a client. But are we doing it for the right reasons? What is influencing our choice?

Are we using good business judgment or allowing our emotions or habits to overrule? Are we responding to RFQ/RFP requirements with information our potential client really needs? Or is that recitation of our 25-year firm history just an emotional habit important only to us? How will this information influence their decision in our favor? If the answer isn’t clear, do a better job of connecting the dots, or toss it.

One component of our SMPS mission is Connect. That means more than networking. Our job is to create an emotional connection with our clients. I encourage you to discover who they are and what resonates with them. It’s not about us. It’s about creating a deep relationship that transcends time and events and helps us make good decisions for the right reasons. Carry on!

SMPS President Nancy Usrey, FSMPS, CPSM, is associate vice president of HNTB in Plano, TX. She can be reached at

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