I reminded myself that we were in a well-lit office, not a dark alley. No need to get aggressive yet. I relaxed my jaw and tried to keep the fear out of my voice as I replied, “If you pull my people off your project, there’s no way you’ll meet the delivery date.”
My client looked at me blandly, as if he had delivered a weather forecast. In fact, he had devastated my sales forecast. Five fewer of my consultants billing their time to this client meant there was no way I would meet quota to earn my bonus. I needed him to engage with me. I forced a response with a direct question that was also a threat. “Did Juan approve this staffing cut?”
“Why would I check with Juan?” asked the Director of Information Systems Development (ISD) for Billing Systems. He ran his finger down a page of the MCI internal directory as he spoke, “Nobody (more…)
Much too often, business owners and salespeople eagerly run off to complete assignments given to us by employees, prospects, or clients. We are asked for something, we feel like we should know how to provide it, and we eagerly set to work trying to produce something that might please them.
My experience is that it pays big dividends to slow things down by asking many clarifying questions. Exactly what information will satisfy a prospect who is looking for a reference? Or comparable experience? Or assurance of financial stability? How much ownership or participation in an eventual sale will satisfy a key employee? What commission, recognition, or work/life adjustment will motivate our best salesperson?
My CEO executive coaching group members have learned that (more…)
I read this book and I review it here not because of any particular interest in sanctioned killing, rather because of my interest in institutional means of getting people to do difficult yet important tasks. I train salespeople and other business leaders.
I first heard the author, Dave Grossman, on a radio interview promoting this book. I heard him say that that in the history of combat from Alexander the Great through World War II only about 15% of soldiers in battle were trying to kill the enemy. He’s not talking about the long administrative and logistical tail of the army. Only 15-20% of the people with guns or swords in their hands, who were facing a threatening enemy, were willing to kill that enemy. I know this is (more…)
Here is a complete toolkit for implementing one of my most powerful and versatile techniques, The Conversation Contract™. Leading psychologist Thomas Harris, author of the bestselling I’m OK–You’re OK, developed the basic process to help people conduct the most important and stressful conversations in their lives. I have refined it over the past fifteen years in my work with sales people, managers, government officials, and CEOs to its present form. You can use it for better meetings, telephone calls, and family interactions.
Start with this video and reinforce your skills with the (more…)
Help the other person feel safe. “We’re friends and colleagues now and we’ll still be friends and colleagues after this conversation.” Easy on the relationship, rigorous on the topic.
Get a firm agreement on facts before delving into opinions. Be conscientious about distinguishing facts from opinions. “The client reported several misspellings in the report,” is a fact. “Your work is sloppy,” is an opinion.
Remember, seek first to understand, then to be understood, is Covey’s fifth habit. Listen before you speak. Encouraging the other person to talk first is also a way to get his or her concerns out of his or her head to make room in there for what you have to say.
Ask questions to clarify how it looks to him or her. Stop behaving as though you know what they think; be genuinely curious.
Repeat key points back to him or her to show that you are listening and to verify that you have heard correctly. You do not need to agree with the person’s point of view, but it is helpful to let him or her know you understand and you accept that he or she sees that way right now.
Take responsibility for your own reactions.
It is not responsible to assert, “You are forcing me to double-check all of your reports.” It is more useful to explain, “When I hear a client complain I feel obligated to double-check all of your reports.” See the difference? The first is the voice of a victim making an accusation, one who has reached a firm conclusion about the location of the problem: it’s the other guy. The second is a person making a choice on limited information, one who is eager to consider alternatives.
The simple shortcut from victim to choice is to start sentences with “I” rather than “you.”
Establish the level of trust: sincerity, capacity, competence, consistency, and care. “I know that you can see when a project is suffering from scope creep and that you will let me know about it.”
Paul J. H. Schoemaker, chairman of Decision Strategies International…
“We get fixated on achievement,” he said, but, “everyone is talking about the need to innovate. If you already know the answer, it’s not learning. In most personal and business contexts, if you avoid the error, you avoid the learning process.”
We grow up with a mixed message: making mistakes is a necessary learning tool, but we should avoid them.
Carol S. Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, has studied this and related issues for decades.
“Studies with children and adults show that a large percentage cannot tolerate mistakes or setbacks,” she said.
We are risk-averse because “our personal and professional pride is tied up in being right. Employees are rewarded for good decisions and penalized for failures, so they spend a great deal of time and energy trying not to make mistakes.”
We tend to favor data that confirms our beliefs.
We assume feedback is reliable, although in reality it is often lacking or misleading. We don’t often look outside tested channels.