‘ext Before ‘ent, Please

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus
Reading time: 2 min.

For the sake of speed at work and home, we tend to concentrate on content: who’s doing what and how & when they are doing it. But, oh wow, does this generate resistance! People will actively or passively fight over these details. They fight mostly because they have no ways or means to agree. Our biggest mistake is trying to press harder and go faster to get past this resistance and on to performance.

The better way is to start with and frequently come back to the context. Context gives us a foundation to agree and build upon. We clarify what is true now, what we want to be true in the future, and why. A great way to kick things off is to ask, “What results will let us know we’ve done a good job here? And how will we know we’ve done a good job along the way to getting those results?” With context set, the content conversations will flow much more easily and productively.

‘ext before ‘ent, please.


In your corner,


PS: It is so much easier to find agreement or come up with creative win-win solutions at the context level than we ever can at the content level.

PPS: Another word for context is strategy. Another word for content is tactics.

PPPS: The simplest way of describing the difference: why vs. how. Next time you notice the team getting stuck, see if they’re open to setting aside the how for a moment and focusing on the why.


Today’s photo credit: Free the Image First contact. via photopin (license)

How to Know What They Need from You

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Success, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

In yesterday’s post, we discussed how to give and get useful, easy-to-hear feedback. With that feedback, you know what you are doing well, what could improve, and how you might go about improving.

That feedback is helpful and incomplete. It focuses narrowly on your performance. What about the bigger picture that looks at you in your role, on your team, and in your organization?

One reader said that she would like to know that bigger picture. In particular, she asks,

  1. Am I contributing sufficiently to the goals? Unfortunately I am not sure I really know what these are. I want to be sure I am adding value. How would I ask this?
  2. Where is my role going in the future? How will it, and how I will, develop over the next 12-24 months?

To learn how well you are contributing to the goals of your organization, try asking some or all of these questions:

  • At the end of the year, what results (qualitative or quantitative) will tell you that I have done my role well?
  • How does our team contribute to the organization-at-large?
  • (Presuming you are asking your boss) What results are you committed to deliver this year?
  • What is the organization-at-large committed to delivering this year?

To learn about how you and your role will develop in the future, keep taking a win-win approach. Try asking

  • What is coming down the pipe? What longer-term issues or opportunities do the organization face? How about our team?
  • How can I help?

You and your role will develop best when in support of your team’s and your organization’s goals.


In your corner,


Mistakes We Make Trying to Get Others to Act or Change

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

Success requires that we become good at influencing others to act or change. So we get good at teaching, asking, telling, directing, demanding, coaching, offering, trading, and selling.

And we often make three big…and unwitting…mistakes when we try to get others to act or change.

The things we usually forget to do and must get good at are

  1. Setting the stage. Describe the situation–the context–and what you hope to achieve.
  2. Asking permission. Ask if the other person is willing to have this conversation, meeting, etc. If they say they are, agree on a time to have the conversation (even immediately). If they say they are not, then you face a new conversation about what’s preventing them. Have that conversation then come back to this one.
  3. Establishing the grounds for win-win. Ask the other person what qualities and results (not process or solution) they are interested in seeing in this situation. Then describe your desired qualities and results (not process or solution).

Forget these steps and you will encounter defense and resistance. Remember these steps (I suggest you make a habit of it) and others will be much more ready, willing, and able to act or change.


In your corner,



P.S. Once you have used these steps to start a conversation, you can continue by asking, telling, teaching, etc

P.P.S. You can use this approach with your boss, employee, child, parent, friend, partner, peer, etc.

How to Handle a Stalled Conversation, Negotiation, or Sale

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

A stalled conversation, negotiation, or sale happens when one or more parties feels unsafe, like they might lose out. Defensiveness and resistance increase. Logjam. When this happens, you’ve lost a shared sense of trust and common ground.

You may be tempted to make your case more eloquently, forcefully, persistently, or cleverly. This will usually be met with more defense and resistance.

Instead, pull back a step, layer, or level in the conversation. Find or re-establish common ground. Ask what it is that they see as the context and purpose of the conversation. Then state your perspective.  Establish or reinforce your commonly-held intentions (e.g. to go for a win-win-or-agree-not-to-play solution). Once you’ve reached common ground (again), the logjam will be gone. Start from the newly (re-)stated common ground and continue your conversation, negotiation, or sale.


In your corner,


P.S. There is always common ground to be found between you and others. Always.