Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Are you a business Lothario/Lothariette?

A few days ago I remembered an email I’d received a couple of months back from an old buddy of mine. I wasn’t reminded of it’s content, more of what he had written at the foot of his note, beneath his name.

 “Aspiring to live in a way where everybody’s needs matter.”

 I was really struck by this aspiration. I actually found the statement inspiriing yet  chastening and just a little vexing. It prompted the question – how much of my time and energy do I put into thinking about my needs? How much do I put into considering those of others?

 It is, of course quite natural at this time of year to set personal goals or make resolutions for the coming twelve months. “What do I want? What would I like to achieve? Where would I like to be this time next year?”. Now, I can argue that there is nothing actually wrong with that, however other questions could include “What can I contribute?” or “How can I make life better for others around me as well as for myself?”

 If  I try to exert my agenda on to other people or if I see them in terms of how useful they are to me, I am more than likely to get resistance and friction. This is powerfully illustrated by a simple exercise I run on a number of my courses. I ask people to stand up in pairs. One member of each pairing holds their hand out in front of them at chin level with the palm facing upward. The other person is then invited to push down on their partner’s outstretched hand with their own hand.

 What is fascinating to observe is that nine times out of ten, the person whose hand is being pushed resists – yet there was no instruction given to do so!

 If you are in company as you read this, then try it yourself right now. Ask your friend/colleague to hold their hand out and then simply push down on theirs.

 When pushed, our natural reaction is usually to push back. When we take more of a “pull” approach we set the groundwork for influencing with integrity, bringing people with us and everyone’s needs being met. Why? Because just as with my friend’s statement we see the other person’s needs as mattering as much as our own. As a result, we listen, we ask appropriate questions, we care. People can’t help but respond positively.

 Do you happen to be a single person at the moment? Or, have you ever been single in the past?  If so, do you/did you ever go out on the “push” on a Saturday night? Perhaps it’s no coincidence that we call it going out on the “pull”?

 The analogy may appear flippant but is actually an accurate one. Ask anyone who has had the good/bad fortune to be “chatted up” at a party or nightclub as to who the most boring people are. The answer will almost always be the same: “The ones who talk about themselves” ie: the ones who actually “push” rather than “pull”.

 All too often I have seen this in sales presentations and business meetings. The sales person declares to the client “Let me tell you all about Excitingsplurges Plc and everything we do”. The salesperson then proceeds to “we” on the customer: “We” do this, “we” do that, “we” “we” “we……”

 I’m sorry but most of us do not like to to be “we’d” on!

 Take a look at any number of website home pages that are awash with the word “we”. Check your’s out – just in case!

 Just like the nightclub lothario: BORING!

 The salesperson or practitioner who taps the unmet needs of the other person before putting forward their proposition (IF it is relevant) is the one who will ultimately succeed and flourish. This is borne out by the well known natural law that  states: “If I help you get what you want, then I will in turn get what I want”.

 Whilst many of you reading this may feel that I’m preaching to the converted, I am still astonished to see how many sales and business people still default to the “push” – especially during these tough times. I know I risk falling into that trap myself during challenging trading conditions, however next time the temptation arises I’ll try to hang on to my friend’s wise aspiration at the foot of his email.

 So finally, let’s consider whether there are circumstances where you may go into “push” mode:

 When meeting customers do you tell them “all about” what you do/offer or do you ask about their needs, listen and respond based on those unmet needs?

 When you have a great idea, do you evangelise or do you bring others on board by taking time to ask their views and then listen in return?

 At networking events are you a bore who talks at people about what you do or do you take a genuine interest in them? Oscar Wilde split the world into people he considered either to be charming or tedious – which are you?

 When attending internal meetings do you just push your agenda, or do you ask for others’ views and genuinely listen to them, open to further dialogue or negotiation?

 Are you out on the “push” or are you out on the “pull”?

 Here’s to a great year ahead where everybody’s needs matter!


One Response to “Are you a business Lothario/Lothariette?”

  1. I clearly remember going out on the “push” about 804 years ago before marital bliss !! For a bloke with one head, two arms & legs and all in the right place, the harder I tried, the worse it got !!

    On a serious note, we all have our preferred influencing styles, some prefer “pushing” which is all about persuasion and assertion. Others prefer a “pull” style which is about attracting and bridging (i.e finding common areas of interest). Those whose preferred style is “pull” in general respond more positively when someone tries to influence them with a “pull” approach, so avoid logic and persuasion with these people because it may turn them off even if they don’t say so.

    I recall a situation many years ago when I really needed to influence a more senior individual. My typical style at that stage was to push, using the power of persuasion. Trouble was, I never seemed to get anywhere with her. Then the angel of the lord came down and helped me understand different influencing styles, and I tried the “pull” approach which was about asking questions, listening and finding common ground. Add a bit of disclosure “I’m really a bit nervous about this …” and she became both supportive and helpful. Some years later when I raised the subject she admitted that she tended to resist because although she couldn’t really argue with my logic, she suspected that I had my own agenda, and that switched her off. When I aligned my style with her “preferred” style, she felt much more at ease and was only too willing to help. A great learning experience for me !!

    A couple of other things – I was at a family party at the weekend and I met a historian who specialises in helping organisations & local authorities unravel mineral rights – sounds a bit dull, but quite the opposite, its really fascinating. I now know much more about something because I asked & listened, and we found areas of common interest. It wasn’t all one way and we ended up talking about my father’s history as a Serbo Croat who was forced to flee his country in the 2nd world war. What struck me about this guy, also named Alan by strange coincidence, was that he wanted to take part in a two way conversation and not just harp on about mineral rights. This had an effect of pulling me towards him (no, I know what you might be thinking ….), but seriously, I wanted to listen, he really is an interesting guy.

    But then there’s a mum of one of my son’s friends who can talk of nothing else but her sons sporting exploits. I don’t like being rude but she really is like a Vick Sinex spray (lasts for hours). I could say that Sam or Charlie is about to go on a solo expedition to climb Everest, and she would wait until I had finished and move on to the next sporting conquest.

    So, beware, listening is not waiting to speak !

    Keep them coming

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