Our Best Start

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Job search, Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1 min.

In an interview, in a sale, when working with colleagues, or when leading others, we best start by understanding what our counterparts need, want, and desire. Then we can explore with them how our talents, products, services, ideas, and requests serve those needs etc. Our first steps are to ask open-ended questions about what they want and why. Then we confirm our understanding of what we hear.

We may be tempted not to use this approach as it appears to take too long. Really, though, anything else generates resistance and lengthens the time to get hired, make the sale, come to agreement, or see proper action.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: jakeandlindsay cc

When We Can and Can’t Tell People What To Do

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 1 min.

There are only two times when we get to tell people what to do: in a true emergency or when they are not yet competent and confident in the task.

Every other time, we’re far better off (yes, even when we think we don’t have the time) to point out what’s new or how something is deviating from the desired goals and explore what they think they might do to address it.


In your corner,


PS: “I notice that the margin on this project is lower than normal. What might be some good next steps to correct it?” works far better than, “Call the vendor and get them to cut their price then tell the client we have to put through a change order!” One generates cooperation, the other generates resistance and waste.


Today’s photo credit: Mike Mills cc

Ask, Don’t Tell

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1 min.

Tell me the answers, what I should do, what’s right, and you may get my grudging compliance. You certainly will be training me to distrust your motives and defend against your suggestions in the future.

But, dear leader, ask me what I think, help me explore options and my own motivation, then set aside your opinions and just plain old hear me, and you will spur me to inspired action, sustained success, and real loyalty.

Think about this the next time you catch yourself in the weeds, pushing, and wondering why they just don’t get it.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Véronique Debord-Lazaro cc

Don’t Bother Making Your Case

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1 min.

The best way to make our case is, oddly, not to make our case.

In leading, selling, and influencing, our first temptation is often to pitch. We want to explain to people what we want them to do or believe and why they should agree with us.

But we are all hard-wired to resist, defend, and counter such attempts, either actively or passively. So most of our telling and pitching will fail or at least slow things down.

Instead, let’s first hear them make their case. How do they see things? What’s working and what’s not? What would be great outcomes for them?

Once we’ve acknowledged and confirmed with them what we heard, they will be open to hearing our perspectives and to jointly creating solutions that work for us and them.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: thebarrowboy cc

any questions?

Go Ahead and Ask

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1 min.

“What is that?” “How does that work?” “Why is that important?”

All important questions that we tend not to ask.

Given the way we all grew up, it’s not unusual that we don’t ask. We think we are judged by how much we know. But we step into knee-deep trouble when we think need to know so much. We don’t ask questions when it would help us, we put on airs that we know things, we compete to be the one with the right, best answer. How can any of this be helpful when what wins today is connection, consensus, and collaboration?

Go ahead and ask.


In your corner,


PS: If they judge you harshly because you didn’t know something, it probably says more about them, ya?


Today’s photo credit: Matthias Ripp cc


Our First Reaction May Be Wrong

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 1 min.

We may be reacting incorrectly when we want to move others. In our desire to lead, sell, or influence, our knee-jerk reaction usually is to tell, impress, explain, or justify.

Yet we never need to pitch, wow, push, or convince. We do not have to impress people with who we are, what we have done, or what we are good at.

Instead, we listen. We invest our time to understand who they are and what they need, want, desire. We then explore with them how we both can have our needs, wants, and desires met by working together. This way is less stressful and generates much less friction between them and us. It engenders respect, relationship, and results.

Let this be our first reaction to move others.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: onkel_wart (thomas lieser) via photopin cc

Good Leaders Expose Rather Than Impose

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 1 min.

Here is the fundamental conflict in leadership. People universally resist being told what to do. We, as leaders (with or without titles), feel we are on the hook so we regularly tell people what to do.

We can try various tactics to disguise our “telling” and they will have many creative ways to resist. Regardless, as long as we are telling, we get nowhere significant.

To make real progress, seek to expose rather than impose. Expose your thinking and motivations. Expose what would make a win for you and the organization. Expose how what they do contributes. And use curious, kind inquiry to expose their ideas, motivations, what would be a win for them, how they see it working out, and what they imagine are their next steps.

Collaboration and completion usually ensue.

In your corner,


ask them

Ask Them

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Success
Reading time: 1 min.

Other people can be quite frustrating. Since they don’t want to be told what to do or think, how can we possibly lead,  sell, or influence people to see things or do things in a new way?

Simple. Start asking questions. Not as an interrogator, mind you. Be curious and caring. Ask them what they want for themselves in the near-, mid-, and long-term future. Ask them what they think might be their first steps. Ask them if you may share your suggestions  (e.g. “You might try taking on this new responsibility.”) and requests (“My request is that you follow through on work you said you would complete.”), too. Ask them what obstacles might get in the way and how they might clear them. Ask them how it would feel if they could achieve all this.



In your corner,


PS: If you are resisting your own good ideas, how might this approach help you to help yourself?


Today’s photo credit: otama via photopin cc


We External Processors

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

Some of us are external processors: we don’t know what we think until we hear ourselves say it. We are very good at generating new ideas, engaging others, adding energy to a conversation, and breaking the ice at parties.

We also can ramble, repeat ourselves, and generally drive our more logical, think-before-you-speak colleagues around the bend. As we are busy listening to what we’ve just said to see if it makes any sense at all, they are wondering how we can be that enthusiastic about this topic and why we can’t stop after our second re-explanation.

If you are one of the external processors clan, here are four tips to help:

  1. Ask permission. While there is nothing wrong or right about thinking out loud, your think-then-speak colleagues can be put off. Asking ahead of time for their okay to think out loud helps you put forth your best work and shows them that differences in style aren’t such a big deal.
  2. Let there be silence. “We were about to have a full millisecond of silence. Luckily, I was able to fill the void with a tangential comment.” We external processors can fall into the trap of needing to fill the gaps in conversations. Get comfortable with the power of those gaps to process insights and surface wisdom.
  3. Ask questions. Direct your creative mind toward framing relevant questions. Questions encourage others to participate. And they give you time to think before speaking next.
  4. Match. You can reduce the miscommunication, misunderstanding, and conflict you might have with others by temporarily acting as they do. Match their pace of speech, tone of speech, and body language for even a few seconds at the start of a conversation. They will appreciate it.

And, if you are one of the think-before-speaking clan, we sometimes misunderstand you and end up feeling rejected. Give us a smile every once in a while. Thank you.


In your corner,


PS: I repeat myself for emphasis. I repeat myself for emphasis.


Today’s photo credit: Rainbirder via photopin cc