Today’s podcast, “The Conversation Contract” is the audio from a webinar presented by Tony Mayo, The Business Owner’s Executive Coach. Listen to this recording and then join us for Tuesdays with Tony at Twelve, a weekly, free webinar where you can explore powerful executive coaching tools and ask Tony about applying them in your life and career.

Tony teaches his all-purpose, 3-step process for making any conversation more comfortable, agreeable, and effective. He discusses applications to sales, supervision, and marriage. The Conversation Contract™ works for quick telephone calls, annual reviews, sales presentations, and week-long workshops. It is the way to get more done in less time with less stress by negotiating quick, clear, and clean mutual agreements.

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Thanks to MusicOpen for providing public domain recordings of Beethoven.

Mostly for the benefit of the web indexing engines.

The Conversation Contract: The way to get more done and every conversation with quick clear and clean agreements.

And what I mean by clean is it’s honest, it’s it’s above board. It’s not a manipulation. It’s not a maneuver.

It’s one of those things where if someone knew what you were doing it would go even better and working with other people who are familiar with this.

Accelerates and deepens, a lot of conversations and as you may have heard me say before I see a lot of wisdom embedded in our language and conversation.

Is an English word from to Latin words, you probably know one of them con same Spanish means with Versace is a little more obscure, it needs to change the state of something

common usage was opening or closing a door is what first stories about. So an early English when someone invited to a conversation

Everyone knew that meant, people are going to get together and change the state of something maybe open or closed the door, some sort of opportunity. So I

Like to keep that in mind because conversations generally there’s some intention and if we take a moment to think about that intention and agree on intention. Everyone can operate a lot

Now my next slide is and so relevant with the just the three of us, by the way, that fourth one is my laptop so I can look over there and see what you see

You don’t need to type into the chat window, just feel free to unmute your microphone jump in at any time.

And I’ll skip the video on how to use the chat window as well. So I, there is a blog post on the conversation contract. There’s a video I wanted to first videos I ever posted on youtube so it’s it’s

It’s kind of low res and I have hair so you can tell how long ago was I remember that first video I thought, well, I’ll do something I’ve taught many times for over a decade now, just turn on the camera and do it. So I set up the lights and the camera and I sat down. I went

There’s something about that camera that just takes the words right out of your hat.

But a track just a few more times and created that video. There’s also a PDF. You can download and read on this whole concept.

But here’s the basic idea graphically.

reach agreement immediately early on with the other people in the conversation of what the outcome is that they like to accomplish.

Now you might say well purpose of the conversation is to find out whether everybody agrees to this particular outcome. So I’m not talking about

For instance, what the decision is but just that we want to make a decision on that we’re not saying advanced what we’re going to learn was saying, what topic we want to explore and learn more about

This all comes from my background in sales and sales training. And you can before that there was a book, very popular in the 70s effect.

became so popular, it became sort of the of jokes. I’m okay, you’re okay. But it’s solid psychology and it was a very important influence on the culture.

Well, what they relaying this book is how therapist would often work with their patients on conversations that they needed to have with people in their life.

They might even role play and play in detail, these conversations, then the patient will come back to the next session and you find out the conversation didn’t happen.

So there were settling for this once keep for why the conversations not happening it we need to do some training to help people have these more difficult, easy to avoid conversations. So they came up with.

Some ideas that were developed by myself and others into the conversation contract and the ideas. Let’s start by agreeing to these three things before we get into the the meat of the conversation.

One is I want to explore more what your feelings are on this topic which your preferences are around that. What’s your memory is of this incident. Are you willing to hear what my feelings war. One such and such happened the way we use it and sales is

We’d like have a conversation where you learn enough about me and my services and I learned enough about you and your needs. So at the end of the conversation we know whether it makes sense to even go

Forward to talk about pricing and timing and so on. So you see, we haven’t agreed on whether or not to buy my product we just agree that we’re going to

Have a conversation enough to find out whether it’s worth investing more time and effort into buying the product.

And then later on the process we may actually agree to have a conversation with isn’t up down guess no decisions. So first of all, let me know the outcome or purpose of the conversation. So far so good.

Alright, next is the the process and I’ll bring up a more detailed slide for this.

So on the outcomes. We’ve reached some agreement over what kinds of decisions will make what asks will agree to do what actions need to be taken.

The process involves who needs to be in the meeting.

Particularly in sales. Sometimes it’s very disappointing to go in and give us a big detailed presentation.

Have asked a lot of questions on the prospect and then find out that one of the key decision makers is not there or someone who has information about the budget, where the timing isn’t in the meeting. So let’s make sure the right people are at the needed

We’re show hill. The meeting that telephone conversation we’re going to do right now in the hallway. Do we need to book a room.

What are we going to do with the speed it I’ll be going to try to create some things are we going to create a document which is going to talk the whole how of the of the process.

Now we’ve gone this far in negotiated agreement on the purpose of the conversation that process of the conversation. Now we know how long it’s going to take

Now in my business with executive coaching clients I typically have a 60 to 90 minute initial meeting with the owner, operator, her business.

Now if I just called and said there’s a long shot change, you might want an executive coach. How about carving out 90 minutes to meet with a, the answer is going to be no

But once I’ve discussed with them the outcome in the process will go through and they say, well, yeah, I can see what that would take an hour, an hour and a half. Let’s, let’s get it over with.

But it’s really the opposite of how we typically separate conversation, isn’t it, um, the typical way is, have you got them in. No.

Or can I get on your calendar. No.

And even when we do discuss the times we almost always just specify the start time

Which, particularly in sales is one of the reasons people don’t want to make appointments, because they. We all know the cliche of the salesperson who sticks their foot in the door.

And won’t let you leave the car salesperson would get your license in your car keys. So you can’t leave the show room until you give them another chance to convince you of something

So we’re all worried about conversations that go on too long. So let’s discuss the end time as well when we’re going to begin to do to take breaks and when are we going to be God.

Now this can lead to some sort of cascading conversation contracts and a context. I’m on the telephone. See, tell you what Allah

A public speaker, I understand you book speakers, could we spend five minutes right now. I’ll tell you a little bit about me, I’ll ask you a couple questions. What you what you’re looking for.

And then we’ll know whether it’s worth having a more detailed conversation about budgets logistics and so on. You want to take three minutes and do that right now. What do you want to schedule another time.

Now, who doesn’t want to get it over with. And three minutes let’s let’s do that. But you’ve got to respect the time

And this is your opportunity to make in keep promises, which is one of the major ways we evaluate who’s worth doing business with

When you get close to that three minute agreement, no matter what’s going on stock everything say excuse me.

I want to be respectful of your precious time, I noticed our three minutes is almost up.

Show he add five minutes to this to make sure you wrap it up. What do you want to schedule another meeting again.

People almost always say, let’s add a few more minutes, or they may go back and say, well, could read negotiate the outcome if we just focus on this back aspect of it for two minutes.

See, it’s an agreement, you’re not demanding anything you’re always asking, giving him a chance to modify things changed their time change who should be involved in that makes it easy for people to talk with you and it could be if you’re a manager, when I talked to employee.

I want to discuss how are going to handle the new class we’re presenting tomorrow. I need to talk to you. I want to look at whatever it note you have we should get the powerpoint from the last time we did have some of the class. So let’s get together for half an hour late this afternoon.

Much more than I like to talk to you about tomorrow.


So, and people in your in authority that that particular thing to look out for us to make sure that we’re we’re putting people at ease, as much as possible by letting them negotiate and agree to just how things are done.

That is the conversation contract it goes in order. And if you find that you’re having trouble with one step you don’t

Beat that step to death or just give up. You move back a little bit. You can’t get agreement on the times maybe we’re not really committed on the process.

If we can’t get enough understanding of what the process should be made. We don’t really understand each other on outcomes that we can both agree to

So just retreat to the beginning. Get back to the fundamentals, which is what we both want to get out of this. Where do you want to be at the end of the conversation.

All right, so that’s my discussion of how it works. Questions about where you would use it, how you would use it and maybe have a conversation coming up either a specific one or one you have

To like get some input on

Yeah, I have a. So I have a question. This is

This is, this is a very helpful Oregon organizing framework and and I’ve used it in formal meetings.

One that I’ve used is like purpose outcome process, the pop. We always would have to have a pot before you would when when I was facilitating meetings. But what I’d like to hear from you about it is how I use it when somebody is asking me for a meeting. How good and

They’re being kind of sketchy about it because what I’m discovering and I’m having with I’m challenged by is that many people went to meet with me.

And it takes a lot of my time. And often what I wind up doing is giving them free consulting

You say,

So as I’m listening to you. I think it would be helpful for me.

Before I set up a meeting like that is say, so what is it you’re looking for, what, what is it you’re looking for from meeting with me.

But I’d like to know from your experience with that has ever happened and how you’re able to manage that as the recipient of the


Absolutely. Anyone can do this. In fact, once I finally sat down with a prospect, the owner of a business. He put two, three of his people to the meeting.

I sat down there with my assistant and then meeting Jessica bogged down for a while. And finally, my assistant pricked up says, you know, Tony. It occurs to me. We didn’t set

A contract for this meeting, should we do, there’s not anyone. Yes, please. Let’s do that. And some of the get clear on things. So at any time anyone in the room can can recommend this and I

I suggest the people be empowered to do that when we do off sites and facilitating meetings like that. Now for the one particular that you call them. I would say something like

Yeah, I think it might be useful to meet with you, but I want to make sure it serves you.

Suppose at the end of that meeting, you’re really pleased happy we got together, what would have been accomplished. What is it that you’d like to have this be a good meeting for you.

So you see, I’m not being at all reluctant or putting them off. I’m assuming we’re going to have a great meeting. I’m as them. What’s a great meeting for them.

Many times where people will say is

Get to know you better.

Have a likable kind of gal. Ah, and what winds up happening is that I’m not, I’m not getting as much out of the meeting is I think they are.

Would I want to be able to do is turn either be clear that


Let me cut through the

Well, tell you what you would like to say the person if you weren’t a nice person. What’s the line.

Wasn’t ours person, I would say.

What it, what would you want to say me


I don’t know you, or

You know I know you’d like to meet with me, but my time is really valuable.

And, you know, I’m not sure when they

Invest the kind of time you’re looking for from me.

Oh, we see if there’s a there’s something of mutual benefit.

Well, let’s try it out, Susan, you’d be the person who’s calling and I’ll be you. All right.

Hey, Tony. I really enjoy your, your training and I would love to be able to get together with you and you know, learn more about you, it, see if we could, I don’t know, I, I just really like what you, what you have to say. And I’d like to learn more.

That’s flattering. Glad you

Enjoyed the workshop. So tell me a bit about what you’d like to accomplish at this meeting before we we both carve time out of our schedule for what’s, what’s a good outcome for you.

Well, I just want to see if you know if you have a connection. Maybe we could help each other out.


Yeah, I need to

Have a little bit more to go on to make sure we both prepare for the main way we should so

Just be friends. I mean, can’t we just

You know, get to know each other better. I mean, I

Won’t let that that’s that’s nice idea. I think that would be good to do. But no, this is business hours and I’m sure you understand the fact that what I do for living my own product right conversations

I’m having to talk to you about how I work.

But this does sound a little like work, doesn’t it.

Well, yeah, but so oh I just thought you’d be free to, you know, just chat and get to know each other better

Yeah, I’d love to do that, but it’s not something I scheduled during, during the business day so

Are you available tonight or

I’m afraid I know I

Know, at some point in this I’m encouraging to me that I’m trying to stick to the conversation contract.

Saying, Well what I actually do with these I do get these calls

halfway into this, I would have

flipped it around using really the topic of next week’s I’m not putting you off, I’ll talk about it now next week’s is is responding to questions with questions.

Pretty early in this conversation. It’s so instinctive. Now, I wouldn’t say well, tell me about your business, all kinds of things you do.

And I’ll get them talking about that right now. And if there’s no way. There are prospect that it becomes easier to shut down the conversation.

So what you do, it is you’re really using it to qualify prospects.

Yeah, and I love the what I learned in Sandler sales training about Qualify, qualifying he says is the process by which people proved to me they’re worth my time.

Hard to convince

You know, this is helpful, because this has been this has been really it’s it like I scheduled

Like virtual coffees 15 minute coffees. Let’s see if, let’s just scheduled with, you know, a virtual coffee or glass of wine, whatever your preferences and time of day and see if we have chemistry. And if there’s a potential connection.

And so that’s a way that I can gain more control of the conversation when they asked. Yeah, yeah, that’s actually better because then I can qualify them because often what I’ll do is I wind up going to coffee or lunch or whatever it is. And I just, just give them a free console. It’s like

Yeah, yeah. And you don’t want to do that. You definitely want to stay out of the free consult business.


But if you’re like me, we really enjoy it. So it’s

Yeah yeah

The funny thing is my bank doesn’t care about them having good time.

And I’ve said that the people I said this is really a lot of

Fun my bank doesn’t care.

That’s good, but you know, I’m a little rougher than most people would like to be

Thank you. That’s very helpful.

But the as I was role playing it with you is realizing you know the conversation contract isn’t the answer for this, it’s it’s responding to questions with questions and getting them to prove to me that they’re up to something. So it’s really a value to me.

This is so incredibly helpful.

Because there. I think that this is a

This is one of the habits that I’ve gotten into which is because I so enjoy people and learning more about them, etc. Fear. I don’t have

A problem. Yeah, I didn’t

Know charisma. You did a great I remember you saying that

I have the burden of charisma. In addition to great beauty. Yes.

Distracting. It’s very

Distracting, isn’t it, Jay.

Know, within the last

I’m just listening away.

This is being recorded by the way.

Right, Jane. What are you thinking

It was interesting me here Susan’s

Like the period from Susan, because that’s my greatest my big fear right now is I haven’t, I haven’t been speaking to anybody. Like I shut down about a month ago because I was like emailing and contacting contacting and and I wasn’t feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere.

And it was just, I think it just, it just wore me out. So now I know that I need to talk to people, but I’m worried. There’s going to be come across as what Susan’s experiences.

But I also know that’s the only way to get to get noticed or found is to have conversations with people. Yeah. So, so don’t be covert, the way that people she’s complaining about are being okay out in the open.

Jane Wilson. I do public speaking and training.

I think that you put people that do that. Obviously, you have no idea whether I’m the person for you yet crew take three minutes, ask a couple questions you can ask about main will know then with us worth spending any more time on it. Okay.


Why do I start that through a phone call an email like how do I, yeah, it’s tough. These days,

I mean, I have heard, and as evidence, I see if I can count throw myself under about age 30 voicemails are hopeless. That just takes too long, don’t bother.

So getting people real time on the phone is more and more of a challenge. Some people say, just keep dialing don’t leave a message to get through to them. But there are some people do have success with sending an email with essentially the conversation contract in it.

Just this is what I do. I think you use people like this. Occasionally, but we don’t know yet whether we’re right for each other. I’m going to call you at this time.

And have a very brief conversation. This seems worth you can spend any more time and then you call it that time and leave a message so they know you’re reliable.

Now something else that came up in the training. I did at https last week and I’ll have the video up. I hope and a few days for you to see is

Don’t put too much in that email the fact I would take out my signature block, because I don’t want them out to looking at my videos. My website because I know think they don’t need to talk to me.


They’ll think they ought to do the research before they talk to me. And then when the time comes, we’ll say I’m not available because they are embarrassed ever done their homework.

No, I don’t want them to do the homework, just talk to me. So we can be flexible and I can point things out.

I have over 600 articles on my website. So it’s easy for me to say when they say, Well, give me a website said no, I don’t want to burden you with 600 different articles.

We talked for three or four minutes. I can send you the one thing that matters to you, is it worth taking a few minutes to do that now. Yeah, sure.

And if it’s not, well then it Friday night. We’re talking to any way just putting me off. And I wanted to right now. And we all know that when the prospect says are thinking about it, thinking about it is you. So let’s not do that. Okay, cool. Thank you.

This is good.

Questions concerns conversations coming up that you want to try out conversations that happen. Recently, you want to hear what the hell happened.

All right, well, then let let’s wrap up for today. So everything is out there and Tony dot com slash Tuesday’s you’ll there’ll be a recording of this up there soon.

Next time we’re going to talk more about asking more questions to make you more effective and at the same time.

more empathetic, because it’s not about tricking them manipulating the way I encourage people to do these things. It’s really to

Respond to their questions with what I call a clarifying question before I give my answer in the classic is you say to someone, someone says to you, do you have a watch. What are they really asking

Do you know

So often

Don’t ask the question, we actually want an answer to

So by responding with a question to clarify what they’re looking for. It’s a service to them and then we can give them exactly the information they need. But also, we know better what they’re up to.

But more than that, next time I hope I’ll see you there on Tuesday.

Thank you so much.

Thank you.