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“I am Groot. I am Groot…I AM GROOT!”

Originally published on CUInsight.com

By now, every tree, raccoon, and 80s-mixtape loving space traveler has seen the newest Guardians of the Galaxy. And, if by some chance, you missed that ship as it soared past, explosions trailing in its wake, then I’ll lay off the spoilers. They’re fun movies. Go watch.

One character became everyone’s favorite: Groot. But that might be our human weakness for puppy trees. Or baby stalks? Saplings? Yeah, that’s it.

So Groot is interesting. What does he say? And what else? That’s all? Yes, here is a character which has now gotten through three films (and years of comic books) with a three word vocabulary: “I. Am. Groot.” But you can always tell what he means.

There’s a science to his communication. You might have heard of a study which showed 93% of communication is non-verbal. Wax washing Dumbledore patio furniture sounds pen computer! Yeah, that’s ridiculous. Dumbledore would never use a computer. So words still matter. Like most science, it was more complex than reported, unless, apparently, you’re Groot. It’s possible they excluded talking trees from their research.

Here’s the reality: What you say is important. But how you say it means the difference between ending the conversation right there or continuing onward.

It’s the difference between someone who cares about talking and one who can’t wait to get away. You see it at networking events, in stores, and on some phone customer service lines. The person who is expressing with animation garners more interest. Seems pretty obvious. If you don’t care about what you’re saying, why should I? Likewise, if you cannot contain your excitement about a new CU initiative, the smile becomes contagious.

Staff who express themselves in this manner create excited members. Excited members are engaged members. Staff who feel obligated to mention products or services do so…in…a…monotonous…and…disinterested…style. The member thinks, “if they don’t care about it, why should I?”

Don’t be teenage angst Groot. Be saving the galaxy for the second (third?) time GROOT!


  1. Rob Boomershine

    Great points Joe! To take this one step further I think credit unions are seeing (or are beginning to see) the opportunity to better connect with our members. I’ve struggled personally to lead others to the answer, even through professional consulting, regarding how and what to say or do in certain interactions with the members. It seems the answer to this quandary is that this personality is either something you have or it’s not. Call it sales, service, Type A, or extroverted nature…some just don’t have it.

    • Joe Winn

      Thanks! You hit upon an important piece of the puzzle; not everyone is suited to “front line” work. Some just aren’t comfortable (ever) engaging people they don’t know. However, I believe even the more shy amongst us will relate to excitement within the organization and convey a bit of it along to those they help. It’s true, though, any interaction with a member is selling. And selling isn’t a bad thing; it’s helping meet their needs by learning about them. The key is finding the balance between celebrating those who excel at the “sale” and ensuring everyone still conveys the genuineness of the credit union mission, whether they “sell” or not.

    • Paul Simkins

      I would have to disagree. Being able to communicate and connect with people is a very learnable skill for anyone – if they want to learn. Yes, there are some people that have a “gift” but overall communicating and connecting is learned.

      If they aren’t learning it even after professional consultant intervention, then perhaps the issue is elsewhere. If employees don’t engage with the members its usually because they aren’t engaged overall in the workplace. That’s not necessarily their fault.

      • Joe Winn

        Paul, thanks for your comment. For some, “being able to communicate and connect with people” is a massive challenge, even if they want to learn. Between degrees of social anxiety and more general self-esteem weaknesses, just “following the script” can be a big accomplishment for those struggling.

        That being said, I do agree it goes back to the leadership. Great leaders will recognize those with the “gift”, while providing appropriate mentorship to others who struggle (even leading by example, taking on the role to learn how best to guide and excite the team).

        The premise here was that *how* what’s said is extremely important, and that requires employee engagement in their workplace…again, a challenge to leadership to be inclusive to ideas and more.

  2. Rob Boomershine

    Great point Paul! Certainly engagement is the not so secret sauce in this endeavor. I also agree that disengagement is not always the employees fault as this should be a primary focus for their leader(s). Thanks for sharing:)


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