Negotiate – There Is Usually More There

Most of the time, we are all just making it up

You’d be amazed what you see when you pull back the curtain.

Most of us don’t know what we are talking about, at all. Perhaps we look confident, but underneath a surefooted tone, there aren’t many facts backing our opinion up.

What is interesting is, most of us know that when we think about ourselves. What we don’t imagine, though, is that other people go through the same thing.

When people swear the cost of something or the benefit, take a moment to ask a follow-up question, instead of reacting.

A well placed “why” can turn what seemed to be two options into twenty in short order.

Frame It So You Can Follow Up

The next question is often essential, make sure you can ask it

The next question is usually “so why…”

Follow up questions lay the foundation for accurate analysis, which is the gateway for insight.

Sometimes it is tempting to skip out on the follow-up, and just go with the flow.

Most times, you’ll get a rebuttal about time if you focus on going deep.

And guess what, they are right.

If you don’t have enough time, then you haven’t:

  • Aligned with your team on a scope
  • Frame the conversation correctly.

Those are skills. No matter where you are in your career, you usually can become better at either one.

Before you get to the follow-up, make sure you’ve accounted for the structure of the conversation so you can be proactive.

Either that or get comfortable chasing your tail.

Please Follow Up

After every meeting, I ask myself a question

Do they want to hear from me?

When I sit down to write a follow-up email, something happens to me.

I hate to admit this, but I often tell myself “no, they don’t want to hear from you, Adam.”

Every failure I’ve ever had bubbles to the top of mind. I get scared and get ready to trash the email.

Except I remember how much I enjoy hearing from other people.

Then I hit send.

Patiently, I wait for someone to write back to let me know what a mistake it was to email them, and they are calling the authorities.

It never comes. Instead, usually, a sweet note.

We live in a connected society, don’t let “you” stop “you.”

Get Simple

Simple is great. It isn’t easy.

Going from complex to simple takes a lot of work.

It requires taste and understanding.

For example:

Turning your phone from 10 buttons to 3 is a lot of work, and for it to work seamlessly, you have to master the context of usage.

  • How does someone use the phone.
  • What exactly would we miss?
  • How do we plan for it?

Answering those questions makes the user feel like he or she won’t miss anything, and that is basically the Holy Grail in client service. People love simplicity so, early and often, they push for it.

That’s why it’s important to look out for false simplicity. People go out of their way to look simple because it makes them look good. As a result, things get lost.

The quickest way to see “false simplicity” for what it is to ask follow-up questions.

If they don’t have an answer, they haven’t thought about it; someone will.

On the Other Side of the Table: When You Ask and it Doesn’t Happen

Vantage Points

Tell a story, follow-up, understand

When I had my first startup, I would bark orders at people. This method didn’t work. I didn’t follow up. I just punished people when it didn’t happen.

When I worked at my corporate job, I would type friendly emails to people as requests.This method didn’t work. I didn’t follow up. I just resented people when it didn’t happen.

Now, when I talk to people I work with, I make a request with a story. This method works for me. When it doesn’t, I follow-up and learn about the situation. I don’t punish, I don’t get resentful, I try to understand.

Three takeaways:

  • Include a piece of yourself, along with the why connects people to your ask.
  • Ask, instead of punishing or become resentful, opens up the insight that allows a connection. People start to like working for and with you. They give more.
  • You calibrate for the future. You know a bit more, so you know when to ask for more or less.

Those takeaways are indispensable when you delegate.

The Whistle

Keep going until the whistle blows.

When I first heard that in football practice I understood it, keep going until the whistle blows, or so I thought. Keep moving your feet until you hear the whistle from the coach. No problem, just keep moving. Like most things I heard in youth, it ended up in the mental recycling bin, filed with the rest of the things that happened to me that are neither very exciting or scary.  I didn’t see the depth in those words, but 14 years later, I see the subtle wisdom that the phrase emits, and that it isn’t as easy to follow. It needs a little change.

Keep going until the (right) whistle blows.

It is a choice of grit and determination.  Those two attributes are not easy to generate. They take a lot of cognitive energy, and our minds hate to use it, like really hate it. Unlike the football field, where there is only one whistle, both your mind and life give plenty of false whistles. It is very easy to mistake them as real, and when you hear them, stop and move into something else. To me, that is one of the tricks of what Steven Pressfield calls resistance, and it has certainly worked on me.

I often think of all the email chains, the event invites, and phone calls that I missed just because I heard a false whistle.  If someone didn’t return an email right away or didn’t leave a voice message, it was a whistle. If I fired off a text and didn’t hear back, it was a whistle. If there was a Facebook message “seen” and no response, there was a whistle. I focused on my life online, but even with just those examples, by hearing a false whistle a new story would begin, and I would refrain from making my move.

It isn’t bothering someone to seek feedback and it isn’t wrong to follow-up. Just make sure if you heard the right whistle, and then go ahead as normal.