Closing the deal – taking or giving?

Do you have trouble asking for things? Many people I know do, including myself. We are taught to be independent and self-sufficient.

“Stand on your own two feet. Don’t be a burden. Never ask others to do for you what you can do for yourself.”

That is all useful advice. Certainly we know and see people who could stand to take that counsel more frequently. Yet this same sage wisdom becomes a stumbling block for some of us in business and in life. The truth is, we need each other to help us meet any number necessities in our lives. Recognizing this fact will help us find harmony in our dealings with others.

Where in your life do you need to “close the deal?” It may be quite literally, in a business conversation where you are offering a product or service to a potential customer. It may be that you are raising funds for a non-profit or other important charity cause. Perhaps you are seeking to take an intimate relationship to the next level. Unless you are taking advantage of someone, the arrangement is imbalanced win-lose setup, then why are you hesitant to “ask for the sale”? Are you taking, or are you giving?

Clearly, if you are winning and the other person is loosing, then being embarrassed to push that deal makes sense. Better to structure a different deal that is win-win, or just walk away. If you are on the losing end, then it also makes sense to be uncomfortable.

When you arrive at a win-win situation, then it only makes sense to move forward to close the deal. One way to take some of the pressure off is to ask the other person, “What gain do you see for yourself in this situation?” That way, they are making the argument for you. You also discover what they see that you missed, and what you see that they don’t, so that you can offer further clarification.

At the end of the day, if you believe that you have a quality product or service, and are asking a fair price, then be proud to say so. If they don’t agree, find out why – you may learn some very important lessons for future development or marketing in your business. Or you may just conclude that this is not a good match, in which case thank them for their time, offer to direct them to someone else who can meet their need, and then ask for any referrals of future business they might send your way.

The right deal will be win-win, both parties are taking and giving in a fair exchange of goods, services, time, energy, and money. And all parties with integrity will walk away satisfied.

Tell us about a time when you struggled with this, and how you worked through it.

Learning to Not React to Criticism

I just read a thoughtful post by Erin Wathen over at entitled “The New Anonymous”. She was actually responding to an earlier and equally helpful post by Matt Rosine on his blog Mosaic: Stop Writing Anonymous Letters and Stop Reading Them Too.  Whether the anonymous criticism comes written on paper or across cyberspace, it can be hurtful. It is typically mean spirited, though the author likely considers themselves writing out of genuine concern, and perhaps even in “Christian Love”. I have found that some people are even willing to own their criticisms as they send them, whether privately or publicly. These people may even be claiming scriptural justification for their actions, quoting things like “…speaking the truth in love…” from Paul’s letter (Ephesians 4:15).

While I agree that we should not react to such messages, I do not agree that we should refuse to read them or ignore them once read. The critique is carrying several messages, which can be helpful to the leader, even if no direct response is offered. If we as leaders are going to step into those troubled and troubling waters, then we need to prepare ourselves adequately for what comes.

Leading with strength requires that we not respond from a place of anxiety. This can be difficult, particularly under such pressure as these messages carry. Being non-anxious, or more accurately “less anxious” is a primary focus of Family Systems Theory.

Once we have the insight, we still need some technique. That is where Crucial Conversations from VitalSmarts becomes very useful. This resource gives us additional insights for how to remain in conversation with people when we find this difficult. The book then gives specific steps for what to do and why. It is filled with examples of practical application. The digital version also includes links to online resources including videos.

Knowing what to do, and being able to do it, are two entirely different things. Many clergy and other leaders experience peer learning groups and supervision wherein they practiced an Action/Reflection model of training and formation. After these periods of formal training, many leaders have little or no opportunity for ongoing support in their development. Working with a coach, mentor or peer group on these principles can help develop the insights and grace to remain connected while differentiated. Gather a group of peers, in person or online, and support one another in this shared journey toward maturity and wholeness. Working with a trained mentor, facilitator and coach can be a great enhancement to this experience. Contact me if you would like to explore some options and would like help forming a group.