My mind kept working, after yesterday’s post, bringing up various and sundry Things I Could Have Included…
Herewith, then, is a Treasure Chest of Real Life Navigational Tools
“I already have plans…”
Years ago (and by that I mean YEARS ago), when I was National Youth Director for an Incumbent’s Presidential Campaign, I was dating my “Boss,” the Director of Voter Groups (we’ll call her “Carolyn B.”), who was also seeing another guy on the campaign (we’ll call him “Paul M.”). I learned something from “Carolyn” that has served me to this day in unexpected and eminently effective ways across virtually all aspects of personal and professional life.
When I would ask Carolyn out for a specific date; if the answer were not “yes,” it would be, “I already have plans…” full stop. No details, no further information. No openings for further question beyond “when might you be free, then, Madame…?”
I could think what I might about what her alternate plans might be, but I had nothing beyond Assumption on which to base an essentially fruitless and likely detrimental-to-the-relationship interrogation. The subject was clearly closed and my proposed option off the table.
Turns Out…this is a GREAT technique for all such exchanges in Life; to which I have translated and applied this little trick of less is more to virtually all potential scheduling conflicts – personal and professional.
Friend(s): “Hey, wanna see a movie on Friday night?”
You: “I can’t; am having dinner with my mother..”
Friend(s): “Can’t you change that to another night and come with us?”
Friend(s): “Hey, wanna see a movie on Friday night?”
You: “Unfortunately, I already have plans…”
Friend(s): “Oh……is there another night that’s good for you?”
…Translated to Professional Contexts:
For some reason, people often seem to think that they have a de facto vote in how one runs one’s own life; down to the setting of personal priorities and the keeping or previous commitments.
‘Frinstance; back in the days I was competing in bodybuilding and physique, my nutrition and workout schedule was an intense routine, and sticking to the schedule was an integral part of keeping focus – nothing casual about it.
So, when in a meeting with a client, scheduling upcoming meetings, and the client would pitch,
“So, can we meet next Thursday at 3pm?
Rather than say,
“Oh, I have workout at that time”
and open up the Portal of Assumption, Pique and Judgement; I’d look at my calendar and say
“I’m already booked for 3pm on Thursday; what else y’all got?”
No one needs to know what’s in the way; your private life is your own: much the same as the irrelevance of the amount of your rent and the number of kids one has to the conversation of salary and pay raises of which we spoke in the previous post.
Don’t even open those issues. Just as your fees should represent your value; your schedule and the commitments you have made to yourself are yours to harbor and meet…sharing them with those of other priorities is not required.
The net effect, by the way, is a perception of you as a busy, sought-after professional. The natural assumption is that if you’re that busy, you must be in demand. Optics. Raise your rates.
Getting Paid: When and Why to Decline Work.
Many of us have taken jobs that paid too little, taken a client about which we don’t feel completely comfortable or a cause in which we may not believe; but we needed the work. I would offer that, most often in such situations, pretty much all parties end up unhappy in the long run. Resentment and unmet expectation can truly undermine the dynamic.
More often than not, everyone ends up unsatisfied and unhappy; seeing the end product through the filter of the tone of the working team and collaboration. If one can avoid this, I believe one should do so, even going so far as to recommend another whom you think might better fit.
True; sometimes it’s the only gig coming down the pike, the only client evident, and one must do what one must do in order to feed kids or cat. If that difficult choice must be made so, consider yoga or meditation.
Seek always to be the last one to speak in a meeting.
(Unless you are the one actually running the meeting.)
Especially in a new group or team, but equally valuable with regular cohorts and colleagues; the longer you wait to speak and more you listen to what everyone else has to say or share, the more informed you will be and the more enlightened and in-tune will be what you ultimately say, because…
- You will know the Power Dynamics of the room
- You will know who is the smartest person in the room
- You will know who thinks they are the smartest person in the room
- You will have a sense of where the relationships and alliances lie
- You will likely gain some timely information about technologies or similar projects that you didn’t already know, and
- That intangible energy that pervades a room where everyone has something to say will have dissipated, and what you say will likely be more readily heard…plus, having listened and heeded, what you say will be from an enlightened perspective.
Always send follow-up emails after meetings of two or more where agreements were made.
“Hey, <colleague/client/vendor>, just to follow up on our conversation of this afternoon; my understanding is that the entire project is to be delivered a week ahead of schedule and you will also be giving us a 20% discount. Please confirm your agreement by return email.”
This habit is likely to save a lot of angst, doubt and confusion. It is called a “paper trail,” though it is no longer paper.
- You get an email.
- You are too busy to give it appropriate thought and response.
- Respond with a quick, “got your note, I’m swamped, but I will respond to you by the weekend” or something.
- Then keep your word.
- A human being wrote you that email.
- Treat them humanely.
- NO ONE doesn’t have 15 seconds to type such a response. That’s all it takes.
- “Traveling” or “am on site” are truly not acceptable excuses for not responding; they are, essentially,
LiesExcuses. The interwebs are everywhere…
Networking and social Media
- Never use the default message.
- Nobody owes you a LinkedIn acceptance. Give them a reason to accept.
- Clicking the “invite” button is not “networking.”
- It’s a good idea and very easy to “brand” your Zoom background. Your own brand or some artwork from the shared project or client. (I’ve been known to use a photo of a prospective client’s product so as to point out “how well I fit” – it’s worked!
Hear all critique; This can inform your decisions and help you to make better ones by raising issues that your fanbase and those who already fervently agree with you may simply not see. (See “Collaborative Dissent” a few pages back.)
Comfort Breeds Complacency in virtually all things. Just sayin’. When you are uncomfortable, you may be on the verge of some of your best work. Trust yourself. Embrace the discomfort and then go with your gut.
Three is arguably the best number for a meeting; ideation, feedback, counsel, mentoring, problem solving. Two is the best number for conspiracy.
Always be willing to learn, and to learn on the fly. At moments of greatest pressure might come a spark of alternative that could be missed if one is too focused on the previously-agreed-and-approved vision. Always hear, always consider. One never knows…
Okay, that’s all I’ve got. For now, in any event. Good luck out there.
*(OBTW = Oh, By The Way)
“IMEX: In My Experience | secrets of making ‘em cheer, weep…and sometimes write checks” is now available in the beautiful and durable Field Edition as well as download from Apple Books. Contact me at email@example.com for purchase and shipping information.
Apple Books Link: https://books.apple.com/us/book/imex-in-my-experience/id1518649025