Friday, April 30, 2010

When Conversations Go Awry

Ever have a conversation with a customer, employee, friend or family member that didn't go the way you expected?

Ever take a step too far with your words, in a vulnerable way, and then NOT know what to do next – because your emotions started taking you over?

You know the feeling . . . your adrenal glands kicks in strong – almost instantaneously – and you jump directly into a "Fight or Flight" mode of operation.

I don't care who you are, I believe there are those that have experienced this . . . and those that will.

In fact, I'd like to say that I'm in the latter group, but more times than I'd like to admit, I find that I have to physically remove my foot from my mouth. And as much as I know how best to respond, my adrenaline still often gets the best of me.

Awkward moments are a part of life.

If you want to grow, professionally or personally in this world, you have to take chances. Feeling vulnerable and sometimes being a little too vulnerable is how you find out who you are and how to get better in “difficult situations”.

In business, it often happens in a sales environment, where you are pushing to make the sale. It happens when you are trying to open yourself to the client to build trust and a bond that you might cross the line. Maybe it's an untimely comment or joke, but you can immediately see it in the eyes of the person you are talking to.

In life, it might happen when you are opening up to a friend or family member – about something you have done or shouldn't have done in your past.

I talk about life and business being 10% of what happens either to you or caused by you and 90% how you respond – this is no different.

A Personal Experience

Recently, I found myself in this type of situation. I was talking to someone that means a lot to me, and I shared something that was not received the way I anticipated or had hoped.

Was it scary? Absolutely!

Did my fight or flight response kick in? You Betcha!

Truth is, I made things worse by not responding in a positive way, and letting fear drive my actions, rather than responding with my intentions in mind and staying focused through the process.

I let the “fight or flight” take over and I definitely made things worse . . . before they got better.

How To Handle The Situation When You Find Yourself NOT Going The Way You Expected.

Unlike many difficult situations you find yourself in, this is usually one that you didn't see coming. But that doesn't mean that you can't stay strong and not let the situation define you - rather than the other way around.

The key is recognizing it as it is happening. I believe, those that can feel that “fight or flight” response and funnel their emotional energy and focus it, can turn a tough situation into something that makes the relationship stronger than before.

So when you find yourself in a difficult situation like this – when you are looking across the table at someone who is pulling back from your last words – it's important to reconnect and go back to the basics - go back to your shared vision - and not get stuck in whatever it was that just got in the way.

So ask yourself, what is it that you both want – not solely what YOU want . . . nor just what the other person(s) want, but what you want together. Focus on what you both are looking for in the relationship why you are talking to begin with.

Remember to focus on your intent to help achieve that vision, and steer the conversation away from the words.

Be STRONG, but not belligerent.

Be confident, but not overbearing.

Listen and make sure you are respecting the others position and how they are feeling, and move forward.

You are both (all) trying to figure out how to move beyond the uncomfortable words that have been spoken – back on track with what you want. You are trying to take your relationship forward to where you both agree the relationship can grow.

And the good news is . . . in almost every case . . . you can.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Inspired By A Simple Conversation With A Good Friend

It has been quite some time since I last wrote in this blog. I have a number of reasons . . . but they are all excuses. And although we all think our reasons are "valid", I don't want to disrespect you or waste your time by pretending they are justified. Suffice it to say that I let life get in the way.

If you are coming back and enjoying my blog again after my long hiatus, Thank You. I appreciate the second chance.

Or if you are a first time reader, I hope you enjoy.

Either way, I hope to incite some conversation about business and life. And I look forward to engaging with you through discussion and generating new and insight methods to deal with the struggles that we all face in both our business and in our every day lives. And even more so, I hope that I can show that as much as we all try to separate the two, Business and Life, the two are so closely related, that it's often hard to tell where one end and the other begins.

So, without further ado, let me get back to blogging . . .

I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine yesterday about a simple concept that I've written about before, but I think warrants new light to be shown on the topic.

You can't manage . . . or improve consistently, what you don't measure.

What do you truly want to change in your business or in your life? When it comes to your goals, what do you want? Where would you like to be tomorrow . . . next month . . . or even next year?

If you are you thinking from a business perspective, you might be looking for more sales, more new clients, decreased costs or maybe more market share?

Or maybe your goals are more personal in nature. More income? Weight loss? Healthier lifestyle? Lower cholesterol? Or maybe a better education?

What would make you happy?

Time and time again, the more I live, the more I see a pattern . . . if you set and commit to a goal (a specific, measurable goal), measure your progress consistently over the entire time span of the goal, you can't help but begin to see improvement, towards the goal, if not complete fulfillment of that goal.

Are things going to change right away? Absolutely NOT!

But they will change. Not because of something magical that happens when you set and measure goals. No, life doesn't work that way. Things change because YOU will start making a difference in the way you behave - you will begin to change the way you behave, if for no other reason because you will get tired of facing the failure each and every day of not improving.

Will you get it right the first time? Possibly, but not always. You will have to "adjust fire" (as the Army likes to say - correcting for missing the target on the first shot), but if you are measuring and you have defined goals, you will be more likely to find the combination that gives you the best opportunity to be "more right" with each subsequent change.

Why is Goal Setting and Measuring Results So Hard?

Unfortunately, in spite of the simplicity of these ideas, we still struggle. In fact, what we all, as flawed human beings, tend to do is to say we want something, and then NOT put into place the systems we need to make sure we actually to ensure our success.

We do this by:

1. Not measuring what we want to improve. We leave our goal nebulous and random so that we can make growth towards that goal COMPLETELY at our emotional whim. If we feel good about what we have done, we say we fulfilled our goal. When we don't feel good about how we are doing, we say we failed. Either way we move on - forgetting (intentionally or unintentionally) what the original goal really was in the first place.

2. Not measuring "interim results" or "the process". Sometimes the end results are a long time coming - or just plain difficult to measure. When this occurs, it's important to set up measurements that are either direct inputs into the results you want, are by-products of your achievements, or are associated with the process you are going to take toward your desired goal. In cases like this, we know that if we follow a process, record the progress (as small as it might be) and measure our consistency, we will see results.

3. Giving up at the first sign of failure (or we don't put into place systems / methods for correcting our mistakes, when the growth doesn't occur as we expected it to occur). This is the number one cause of failing to reach our goals. We set a goal, start down the path to make it a reality, and then give up at the first sign of failure - or we think that since things are going as well as we had hoped (i.e. perfectly) then we just aren't meant to have what we want.

I know these all sound silly to read, but everyone I know and ever spoken to about success, including myself, has seen each and every one of these - at some time during their lives. And if you are honest with yourself, I suspect you will find each of these three struggles in your life too.

Keep It Simple

As simple as the struggle may seem, in my opinion, the solution is ever easier.

Stop over thinking things and keep it simple.

If you want to create a change in your business or in your personal life:

- DEFINE IT. Write down your goals and face them every day. Don't think because you said them once or thought about them, that you will actually remember them as you go about making decisions each and every minute of the day.
- MEASURE IT. Measure daily how you are progressing towards your goals - either directly or indirectly through a process or series of related steps.
It's inevitable - something will happen that you didn't expect or plan for and you will feel discouraged. No goal worth having doesn't involve some hardship along the way. No matter what the cause of your struggle, stay focused on what you want and make it happen in spite of the setback.
- MAKE ADJUSTMENTS until you find the right answer. There is a path to each destination - some are easier to find than others. If your first path didn't work, figure out what didn't work for you and make corrections so that you don't make the same mistake again.


So, let me ask you, "
What things do you want to change in YOUR BUSINESS or in YOUR LIFE?"