A lot of clients, audience members, and even friends and family will ask me, “Alexia, how do you get what you want from people?”
My answer always has two parts. “I don’t get anything from people. However, I can tell you how I empower people to produce results that are a win-win for them and me.”
The distinction, I assure you, is more than mere semantics. When we feel like we are manipulating people to do something they really don’t want to do, or that they don’t understand, our efforts rarely have a happy ending. Which repeatedly getting asked the opening question attests to!
On the other hand, as I talk about a lot in 90 Days 90 Ways, when we open the window and let people see why what we are asking is mutually beneficial, then we make it easy for them to be accountable for the work we need done. They see how their piece fits in the larger puzzle.
For example, let’s imagine that I’m asking my assistant to make 100 calls to convention meeting planners to learn how and when they will be booking speakers for upcoming events. (Yes, this is a very real scenario for me.) In the old days, I would give specific, actionable requests: confirm the name and contact information for the person making the bookings; identify what the protocol is for considering speakers; and record deadlines and any other action steps I need to take to submit myself for consideration.
While I would get the person to make the calls, I would always get the sense that she was simply crossing names off a list. I’d hear a lot of, “I couldn’t get a hold of anyone there” or “I left a message and someone will call back.”
When working with subsequent assistants, I explained that by calling and following up with 100 meeting planners, one was likely to get at least 60-70 percent of them on the phone. Then, by reviewing the information collected, I was likely to identify that about half of those were good fits for my communication and leadership presentations and trainings. And if I submitted myself for those 30 or so events, I would likely book about 15 – my goal for the first half of the year.
As I bet you can imagine, suddenly the numbers had a “why” attached to them. The people who worked with me were able to see what a vital role they played in me sustaining my business, and that motivated them. (And of course, when I started throwing in booking commissions for anything they secured, you better believe the numbers got even better!)
Next time you find yourself wanting to throw one of your people out the window, consider just opening it instead. Invite them in to see how their work is the foundation of a process that has the potential to jumpstart a series of positive results – for you and them. (I’ve lost a couple of good assistants because I have sung their praises to others and as a result, colleagues scooped them up. Or, at least in part because of my recommendation, they got admitted to prestigious academic programs.)
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