Posts tagged - negotiation

Blameless Problem Solving and Self-Accountability

No one likes to cause an issue, be wrong, be behind on a project or deal with the fallout. But part of blameless problem solving is self-accountability.

Self-accountability is the ability to be honest with yourself, as well as being answerable and responsible for what you say and do. To do so, when something goes wrong, you need to step out of the moment and consider consequences of how you respond. It means that after making an assessment of the situation, you are honest with yourself, honest with others and take responsibility for any part you played in causing or creating the situation.

Self-accountability comes into play in all situations, not just when problems arise. If someone who gave you a project to complete asks how it’s coming, you need to be honest even if it is not quite where it should be. Because of our culture, you should have the courage to tell the truth even when it is not what the other person wants or hopes to hear.

That is because inherent in blameless problem solving is trust. We all want our co-workers to trust us and vice versa. The expectation we all will have candor with each other rests on knowing that even the honest response someone doesn’t want to hear will be dealt with respectfully.

This doesn’t mean you don’t get to explain yourself. But leading with why something negative happened or a project isn’t complete will sound like an excuse and come off being defensive. Lead of with the issue, the status, whatever you need to communicate, honestly. There will be time to explain if necessary and appropriate.

I leave you with a quote on self-accountability I found that I like:

“The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.”

― Steve Maraboli

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The older you get, the less you know

What? Really. What I mean is that as you gain experience you realize how much you don’t know and become (hopefully) more comfortable admitting it. We all experience conversations where the other person tells you they know about something or someone, but is or becomes clear they don’t. You see this more in younger or less experienced people, but anyone can do it.

Most times it comes from inexperience and insecurity. We are not supposed to know everything and everyone. We can be in a position at any age, where we are learning something new. Ask the extra question. How else can you learn? If you act like you know it all, you never will, and it will catch up to you. You want to be an expert, but Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule is real in that if you don’t put in the time you never will really be the expert you want to be.

You may be thinking it is okay to “fake it ’til you make it.” But this is a cliché, and needs to be taken with a dose of reality. If you want to become an expert in anything, especially professionally, you need to spend time and invest in yourself, i.e. the 10,000 Hour Rule. Faking it only can take you a short distance whereas investing in yourself and being a lifetime learner will continue to move the needle in the direction you want.

So be honest when you don’t know something and see what you learn.

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Focus on doing good work, not money

You are saying “What? But I want to work to make money.” We all work to be able to support ourselves. What I mean is if you focus on doing the best you can, the money likely will follow. If you only focus on money you will try to close deals that shouldn’t close or sell something to someone that they don’t need. If you are okay with that and the bad karma you deserve, you should take a look in the mirror and see if you honestly  like what you see.

The point is we generally all are selling something, whether to consumers, other businesses or internally, such as at a large company. If you only are about the sale, you will lose in the long run and may never know. Sell someone something they don’t need or have them pay too much and it will come back to haunt you. As they say, do a good job and the person will tell a few people, but do a poor job and they will tell a lot of people. Reputation is everything and you should care what people are saying about you.

A smart person I know, who is in sales, told me long ago that by focusing on the deal being win-win, as opposed to forcing a deal that shouldn’t close, success has followed with exponential referrals over the years. And then the money follows with happy clients or customers who tell others and will come back to you in the future.

If you work the scorched earth policy of doing as much business as possible instead of doing good business well, you will lose both opportunities you will learn you lost and opportunities you will never know you lost.

If you do this the right way it will allow you to escalate the level and type of work and deals you work on. This will give you more choice in who you are dealing with and what you are working on. If you work in a larger company it will allow you to move up the food chain to greater options and opportunities.

Of course, with all of this should be more money. Remember that work is about fulfillment more than money. I know what some of you are thinking, that in your business there is no unseen financial upside to working better or harder. You may be right for your given situation, but if you are not into or passionate about your work, you will be empty and unsatisfied. In that case, find something else to do or your risk having a mediocre job and a unfulfilled, and possibly mediocre, life. But if you like what you do, there is no harm to focusing on doing your best and what is right. Try it and see what happens.

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Live in today with an eye on tomorrow

Life is long. You will work for a long time. There is no winning instantly. Success takes time. What you do each day matters for your future. The big picture makes living for today essential, which means having a plan and working it. By doing so you really are playing for the future, and for your first taste of, or your continuing, success.

The person you do a favor for today will help you tomorrow. The client you are honest with today will say good things about you to others in the future. This goes with the truth that everything is who you know.

This does not mean that what you know doesn’t matter. It is part of the puzzle that is success. The time you spend to be an expert at what you do is a play for tomorrow when you will be better at what you do than today, and so on and so on. Continual learning and improvement is part of the process.

So the long game is what you have to be playing. Yes, we all can step off of the curb and get hit by a bus at any time, but it is unlikely. By having a plan and working it you will be playing for tomorrow and set yourself up for attaining or continuing success.

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Be Informed

Everywhere I look these days people are arguing. At least it feels that way. About politics. About the environment. About issues big and small.

 

I have written before about how important it is to be an active listener. When I listen I hear a lot of people simply parroting what others say without any independent thought. Or worse, they are speaking about something they clearly have no idea about.

I see this professionally too. I have been in Court and watched opposing counsel simply quote the brief some younger attorney at their firm has written, but simply repeat what is in the brief instead of adding anything additional, which is what Courts are looking for at oral argument.

Being informed sounds easy, but it takes work. Learning about any topic in your work or personal life takes time. But doing so is investing in yourself. When you do you will speak from a place of authority or a position of knowledge.

Does this mean you will always come out better in an argument, or I will always win in court if I go the extra distance? Of course not, but it will bolster your reputation that you know what you speak about, as opposed to simply having an opinion or position you cannot actually support or defend.

And I am not encouraging arguing, but, instead, being able to defend a position or speak knowledgeably. If you do get in an argument or discussion, the goal should be to remain respectful while coming off as informed of that about which you speak.

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Credibility and Trustworthiness

Be honest; don’t lie. And say what you mean. This seems simple, but too many people have trouble with what are to me qualities that we shouldn’t have to strive for. I mean talk about a low bar: be honest and forthright. And be this way all the time to everyone you deal with. You want people to believe in you.

The alternative is being two faced and dishonest. Can anyone honestly say that is the reputation they want? I hope not, because reputation is everything. People remember.

If you do right by saying what you mean and being honest, people will know they can trust you. Trust and respect are the foundation for all meaningful relationships, whether professional or personal.

This is not something you want to take for granted. When the time comes for you to jump off a proverbial cliff, there will be more people there to catch you, i.e. help you get to where you want to go, if you are credible and trustworthy.

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Say thank you like you actually mean it!

We live in a fast-paced transactional world. With the speed everything moves people sometimes resort to a text, email or similarly transactional electronic thank you. But if you resort to relaying a thank you by email, text or social media flavor of the month it is destined for the electronic scrapheap and likely will not be remembered. Be different and either write thank you notes or call.

It takes more time, and, yes, you may have to buy stamps if you write, but it leaves a lasting impression. I remember when I receive a letter or card thanking me for something much more so than a quick email, text or LinkedIn message.

The same goes for making a call. It doesn’t have to be a long call, just long enough to say “thank you.” You would remember that kind of call, wouldn’t you? The answer is of course.

You want people to remember you. The few minutes to write or call do this. Thank you letters, cards and calls never will go out of style. So are you willing to invest a little time in yourself?

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Know who we are because you need a network to succeed

That’s right. You need to know others to succeed. You need to know and have guides or mentors. You need to know your peers. You need to know your competition. And you need to start knowing these people from day one. Or if you did not start then, start today!

There are many ways to go about this. You can network with others alone or at events, collecting business cards and email addresses. You can build your online and social media presence. These methods can be the first introduction people have to you and what you are about.

And this takes work. It takes effort. It takes learning how to reach people. If you don’t know how, it is like making phone calls without a phone book; You may get someone to answer, but it will be treated like a wrong number, not helping you move forward professionally.

So get to know us because not only is it important over time, but it makes life more interesting.

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The 2016 version of why it is time for an annual “checkup” for you and your company

Over the past few years many of you probably read my blog regarding having a checkup for you and your business. This does not involve the doctor, but it does involve all the other professionals in your personal and business life. Since that time, I decided to make this topic an annual tradition. This is based in part on the range of feedback I receive every year.

Some of you said “What a great idea. I am definitely going to do that.” Other said “Sounds like a good idea, maybe I will look into that.” Most of you were busy with the holidays and all that it entails, and probably ignored my advice. To be honest, any of these responses is okay and ignoring my advice may not have had detrimental effects to you or your business.

The point of the advice is that you only know what you know. If you do not check in with your professionals and, for example, make sure contracts or your estate plan remain enforceable and up-to-date, that is where the risk comes in. For example, I always check in with my accountant at the end of the year to ensure that all is right with taxes, i.e. to find out whether my wife and I need to send the IRS a check before the end of the year.

This year I had a reminder related to a different item you should check in on annually, auto insurance. My wife and I added a teenager to our auto insurance. Yes, yes, I knew it was going to have a significant impact on our premiums. And it did. Luckily, before I could call to ask my insurance person to shop the policy around on rates for policies with similar coverage, he did so and we already have switched insurers.

With the time constraints of life, it is sometimes hard for me to move beyond the higher-level checkup, but when I do I usually end up with some benefit. Unfortunately, in our time-crunched world, the question of who to check in with at year end is expansive, from your estate planning attorney, to your investment person, to your insurance person, to vendors you may use such as a yard or pool maintenance company, or your cell phone carrier or your Internet provider. You may be surprised what a company will do in lowering monthly costs to satisfy a current or longtime customer. Try it and see what happens.

I know, I know, who has the time? None of us do, which is why the choices yours. Are your contracts up to date? Did you pay enough estimated taxes or withholding? Are you paying the cleaning service at your office or your lawn service for your home too much? The choice of what professionals to consult, what costs to check or compare and what services to put out to bid is yours. Choose wisely!

And for those of you seeking a reminder or who did not see it in years past, here is my original blog post on getting an annual checkup:

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you are personally and professionally. This can be checking in with your personal accountant to make sure you have withheld/paid enough taxes during the year or planning for deductions to planning for large corporate expenditures on things such as upcoming projects, planned corporate initiatives or planned equipment purchases. But the one thing that is a constant is that we all should be doing this.

In the past I have mentioned why it is good to sit down with various professionals you or your company work with just to check-in, be they attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, financial planners, investment professionals, etc. The list depends on you and your business.

This does not have to be a formal appointment unless you think that is appropriate depending on the nature of the planned conversation. Instead, it can be you offering to buy them lunch or a drink. The point is the better the professionals you work with know you, the more they are able to make recommendations aimed to benefit you or your company.

So don’t wait, start making plans today to meet with these people this year, or at least first thing next year. We all are busy this time of year, but if you take these actions it will help you now and in the future.

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Seek out and heed advice

You can go it alone, but why? We all need help and guidance. You need to have people to go to with questions, to bounce ideas off of and to sound out ideas. It may be a mentor, a friend, a co-worker, well you get the idea. The key is to have one or more people who you trust to advise you and who you will listen to and consider what they say.

You are thinking that is obvious. But is it? Think about who this may be in your life. Do they advise you and take positions that don’t always agree with you? Because that is who you want. You want someone who is honest with you and tells you what they really think.

And while I indicate to heed that advice, maybe the better instruction is to listen well, consider the advice and then decide how to proceed. That is why you need to seek out advice from people you trust, will listen to, respect. Sometimes this means speaking with more than one person to obtain different perspectives on the same idea or issue.

If you do not have these people in your life, start by finding one. Look to your friends and acquaintances, competitors, professionals. Who you should be seeking out depends on you and your needs. But if you find one or more of these people it will help you work through thoughts, ideas, issues, etc. better.

Give it a try and you will see!

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