On my blog, I generally try to give useful tips and insight that will help you improve the way you do business. Let me assure you that I turn that critical eye on myself, too. Especially at the beginning of a new year, I like to assess my own behaviors, tactics, and outcomes to determine how I can improve servicing my clients. This year, I’ve come up with three main areas on which I will focus my attention:
It’s Not What I Say, It’s How They Feel
I probably don’t have to tell you that we live in some pretty contentious times right now. U.S. government shutdowns. Brexit. Social media politics. Assaults on the news media’s integrity. It has made me concerned that the climate my clients operate in may not be one where they are comfortable sharing their real challenges. It’s too risky in this unstable business climate. That’s why I need to be vigilant in making sure I’ve created an atmosphere that evokes trust, sincerity, and freedom to divulge what is really affecting their work. This is critical because the freer they feel because of my affirmation of their challenges, the more they will experiment with my recommendations.
Suspend My Opinions
I’m often asked my opinion on business development/leadership issues. Because it is my professional field, I fall prey at times to jumping in with my opinion on initial comments made by clients. And while I may have some good insight on those comments, it’s better that I suspend my opinion in favor of probing for more information. When I can get a deeper understanding of why they are asking my opinion, and it’s always because they have a situation with which they are struggling, I can provide far more valuable counsel and work with them to create solutions that match their challenges. So, in 2019, I will pause more, listen more, and talk (initially) less.
Remember That Dialogue Takes Two (or More)
Dialogue is a great technique to uncover the true issues someone is wrestling with. A potential client just today asked me to go deeper into what my coaching methods are. Before I responded to him, I asked to select an area of business development that frustrated him last year. That question was critical to tailoring my comments to him, because the issue he wanted me to address was a very real challenge he’s facing now. Perhaps like you, many times I am in the position of providing insight and counsel. This can sometimes result in more lecture, less dialogue. That’s a trap I will avoid this year. A dialogue takes at least two people and it is important that I get my client engaged in it. The more back-and-forth we have, the more “layers of the onion” are peeled back and we can really get to the root of the issue.
I am looking forward to a fantastic 2019 that is filled with growth, learning and success. I wish the same for you.