What Your Personal Relationships Can Teach You About Business
It’s almost impossible to have two personalities: one for your personal life and one for business.
In fact, contrary to conventional wisdom, it’s not even wise to. People want authentic leaders. They want genuine salespeople.
So as you develop your interpersonal business skills, why not try to create links to your personal relationships, your friendships and even your love life – and seriously examine them?
The starting point should not be your technical expertise, but rather, your soft skills – how you manage your own emotions, and how you engage people through their emotions and through their hearts.
Even Dale Carnegie said almost a century ago, “When dealing with people, let us remember, we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion.”
As I point out in A Sale Is A Love Affair – Seduce, Engage & Win Customers’ Hearts, this is not irrelevant today. This is timeless wisdom… and it’s critically important.
Sure, it’s beneficial to be experts in our area, but it’s also important to pull people together, to persuade them, to lead them. This requires the soft skills of getting inside people’s hearts, as well as their minds.
Here are four areas to examine within our personal lives that can put perspective on our business lives.
In each area, take a few minutes to, initially, be your worst critic. Resist the caveman tendency to defend yourself. Instead, think of it as the first step in enlightenment: awareness.
Then, forgive yourself for being imperfectly human. This will allow the brutal honest energy to flow. It’s from this base that we can best begin the process of self-improvement.
When you come away from an important, personal conversation, reflect back. Who did more of the talking, you or your partner? Is this one isolated example, or is this a tendency?
Now try to imagine how the conversation would have evolved had you simply listened more.
Then link this to customer and workplace conversations. It’s the old adage, “Mother Nature gave us two ears and one mouth. We should use them proportionally.”
Listening is the killer app in building trust. Asking great questions is the killer app in engagement.
Listening doesn’t always just happen. Very often, you also have to ask people about themselves, about the big things going on in their minds… and hearts!
So after you reflect on your listening skills in those personal conversations, reflect on how many questions you actually asked the other person, about themselves or the specific issue.
Then reflect on the quality of those questions. Were they simply searching for clarification of facts, or did they actually help the other person work through an issue or put things in perspective?
The best salespeople, in fact, don’t just say the right things. They ask the right questions at the right time. They don’t push the customer through their own sales process. They pull the customer through their purchasing process.
This is true of great leaders when building engagement, too.
“He/She who asks leads.”
Probing For Concerns
It’s human nature to want things the easy way, to not have resistance. However, it’s far better to uncover a concern early than it is to discover it after you’ve gone out the door, or to not discover it at all.
After you’ve asked and after you’ve listened to your friend it may be incumbent upon you to make a recommendation or propose a solution. Of course, she’ll have some sort of reaction to it.
Are you welcoming his or her concerns? If you don’t hear or sense any concerns, are you probing for them?
This takes courage, but “victory comes to the bold.” In sales, for example, probing can uncover objections the customer may not have had the courage to voice. Yet once you prompt for them, the customer will usually appreciate your opening the door to air it, and you should be happy that you can handle it right then and there.
Objections can come after you probe for them. Sometimes they blindside you.
How do you react?
Emotions are instantaneous. They often trigger us into defensiveness and the caveman behavior of “fight or flight.”
Reflect on your important personal relationships. When your friend or partner provides you “feedback,” do you take this as aggressive criticism? Do you get defensive?
In both personal relationships and in business, we may go on the counter-attack or we may avoid. Neither is really helpful.
It’s far better to start back at the top. Listen, ask for clarification, understand the nature of the concern, and then…anchor in something positive.
This is what powerful negotiators do. They first agree that the other party has a good reason for having the concern.
This doesn’t mean that you agree with the content of the objection or criticism, but agreeing with the other party’s reason for having the objection is very powerful.
“If I were in your position, Theresa, I’d have the same concern as you.”
Then you can go about overcoming the objection with information or perspectives that trump the actual content.
The true masters, here, win the battle but don’t lose the war.
And isn’t that what we want – in personal relationships and in business? Shouldn’t we be achieving our goals through fostering our relationships?
Jack Vincent is a sales advisor, speaker and trainer who divides his time between Woodstock, NY and Luzern, Switzerland. His book, “A Sale Is A Love Affair – Seduce, Engage & Win Customers’ Hearts” is now available on Amazon. You can contact him and subscribe to his blog and follow him on Twitter @jackvincent or email him.