leadership incorporated blog

July 26, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Is this the reason you’re missing opportunities?

Let’s say you’ve just met someone who could be a good potential business
connection for you
and this person says, “I’d love to know more about you. Let’s get together.”

Do you:

A. Say, “Great. I’d love to do that. I’ll call/email you.”

B. Say, “Great. I’d love to do that. Let’s set a date.” And pull out your calendar.

C. Hurry to tell them about everything you do right then and there.

Several times in the past few days, I’ve been with people who’ve chosen C.

Short of screaming “YES, I’M TOTALLY SELF CENTERED AND DESPERATE FOR WORK RIGHT NOW!!” C is about the worst thing you could do.

Yet, at some point, and probably the time when we had the most at stake, we’ve all chosen C.

Choosing C is an indicator of a larger and more widespread mistake — which most people make — and which stops success in its tracks.

Let’s back up a moment. In fact, let’s back up to the moment in which this most recently happened and look at it from the receiving end. I was at a networking event and was truly interested in the person in front of me. I had sought him out at the end of the meeting to open the door to a subsequent conversation. It was the end of the meeting and time to get back to my workday. I had just listened intently to about 30 people, each sharing information about themselves and their businesses. I was very clear in my communication: “I’d like to get together with you sometime to learn more about what you do, because I think there might be some interesting synergies between our businesses.”

He launched full-force into a seemingly endless mouth race to tell me all about himself and his business before I walked out the door. He didn’t take the time to learn anything about my interest and expressed no interest in me. As he didn’t know what the basis was for my interest, he didn’t set any kind of context for the information he was vomiting out. He both oversimplified and spewed far too much disjointed information at me.

After a few minutes I fatigued on trying to pull all the pieces together. I started to wonder when he would stop talking. I left the situation thinking he was desperate and self-absorbed and would probably not be a good business partner. I left far less interested in knowing more about him.

In a flash of reactiveness he, perhaps permanently, destroyed the sincere interest I had felt just 3-5 minutes earlier.

Have you ever been on either side in this kind of situation?

Do you see the bigger mistake he made? Can you see how he went on autopilot, fell in love with sound of his own voice, fell in love with his own stories and forgot there was another person standing right in front of him, open to a real and potentially mutually beneficial relationship. He was unconscious to the truth that there are two parts to every communication, what is said and what is received. And if we want success we must be mindful of both.

When we go into unconscious reaction mode, we lose more opportunities than we will ever know we lost.

I know this because I used to spend a lot of time in unconscious reaction mode  (and I can still go there occasionally). When I started to intentionally become more conscious and thoughtful with the person in front of me, amazing things started to happen.

It is so incredibly simple (yet, maybe not easy) to change this. Here is the secret:

Listen. Really listen. Listen very literally to what is said. But also, listen for what is not said. Listen for what’s important to the person in front of you.

Almost no one listens. And people want to be heard. People want to work with people who listen to them. If you just take a moment to listen, you’ll see a huge shift in the opportunities and successes that come to you.

Hope this inspires you this week.

(Note: by the way, the best answer is B. If you want to know why, just think about how often people who’ve said they’ll call you later, actually do it.)

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