There’s nothing worse than walking away from a conversation or meeting and thinking ‘oh, that didn’t really go according to plan, did it?’. I get it, curve balls get thrown and the conversation takes a completely unexpected turn. However, these should be the exception, not the rule and I think we can do more to influence progressive outcomes.
The ‘easy yes’
I talk with my clients about always aiming to get the ‘easy yes’. What I mean by that is setting yourself up to get what you expect from an interaction, with the least amount of effort and pushback as possible. I don’t mean by ‘winging it’ or being a ‘yes man/woman’, But rather having respect for engagement and relationship as a process, and not as a single event.
How to get the ‘easy yes’: 7 ways to have the impact you want
Be clear on your expectation: performance is measured against expectation. So the only way you can set yourself up for success is to know what you expect success to look like. It may not always be a yes. For example, you might want to enter into a debate with your colleague to get their point of view with the intention of incorporating it into your analysis. Your expectation, therefore, is challenge and information. If the conversation gets a bit heated, you cannot call this a fail: your expectation was challenge.
Want to make it even easier? Share your expectation clearly with the person you're talking to. It’s amazing how many people don’t do this and wonder why they ran out of time before they could get to the real topic.
Be prepared: this is possibly the most obvious thing to do, but often the hardest to practice. Preparation takes time - time that we need to spend, often by ourselves, to get everything we need together for the meeting. I’m not just talking about collateral - data, documents, etc - I’m also talking about articulating the expectation, reviewing the agenda or your mental run sheet, resetting your mindset, checking the room booking, practicing the words. Things that you need to ensure you achieve your objective.
Want to make it even easier? Schedule prep time in your calendar and fiercely protect it.
Be empathetic: Did you know it takes time to be empathetic? Sure some people are born with a little more of the empathy gene, but even for those people, they must ‘do’ empathy with intention and purpose. Write this down: brain, heart, ear, eyes, mouth, hands - what is my audience thinking, feeling, seeing, saying, hearing and doing. This is their context, and if we are going to make the right impact on them, we need to show we have considered their context.
Tip: Take a look at Lynne Cazaly’s article on empathy mapping
Be present: When they’re describing leader role models, I often hear clients say ‘they made me feel like I was the only person in the room’ or ‘they kept looking down at their Apple watch every time it buzzed’. We know which one we aspire to be, but which one are we? Remove distraction from your conversation and focus on your audience. Listen intently and demonstrate acknowledgement and understanding. And contribute! I love Celeste Headlee’s TED talk where she says ‘You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn’. If you do that, you’ll show your audience you are present.
Be the connector: Relationship is a process, not an event. Make sure you follow through with the conversation with an update on results, delivery, feedback, maybe a quick ‘I saw this and thought of you’, or ‘I just met Joe - he has something that might be useful for you. Do you want me to introduce you?’ Of even just a 'hi, how was your weekend when you walk past their desk’. A lot of us like to keep work and life separate, and that’s completely fine, but make sure you treat your work relationships with the same level of respect as your ‘life’ ones.
Be honest: Deliver on your promise. Set expectations, say no if you have to: people will respect your openness and clarity.
Tip for implementation: if you need others to deliver, apply these 7 elements to those people.
Be you: know your X-factor. You might have an amazing smile, an infectious laugh, dress vibrantly. You might be meticulously methodic and precise. Whatever it is, use this appropriately as a way to stand out and be memorable. If you’re not sure what it is, ask a friend. It may be different to what you’re thinking, but there will be something. Once you know what it is, know the counterpoint. What you then have is a range of uniqueness to tactically incorporate into your conversations, to the appropriate audience.
It looks like a long list, but like anything, start small. Pick the one thing that will give you the most bang for your buck - immerse yourself in it, consider what that means in your context and where you might need support. Then give it a go.
Love to hear what else helps you get your ‘easy yes’….
About Alena: Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people. She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on firstname.lastname@example.org