A few situations from some of my starting clients in the last week:
1. “I had my sales appointment at 4.30 pm. I arrived early. The receptionist in the large plush lobby barely looked at me as she told me to fill in the forms. I waited till 4.50 pm – nobody showed up – crickets chirping in the background. I stayed till 5.05 pm when out strolls the VP of sales – all full of humor and back slapping talk – I said ‘Hello great for you to make me the time’ and felt like shooting myself in that moment.”
2. “My senior sales person stepped into the meeting and challenged me on the 2 points I had on my board in front of the other sales people. I recovered, but the damage was done – I could see the attention lost on the faces.”
3. “I had been trying to follow up with this hot customer for two weeks – everytime I get him on the phone, he clears his throat and gives an excuse and I fall for it. When should I give in or kick him out of my life?”
4. “My admin team has been late for 6 work days in a row. I am afraid to bring this up as they tend to be highly emotional.. and even though I am a woman, used to drama and emotions from them, I get frustrated and clam up. I think they know I am angry.. but I feel stuck.”
Similar situations for you? Sound familiar?
How do you deal with this?
- Awareness: Become aware of power set-ups
All the situations above have ‘power set-ups’ or ‘power plays’ – these are structures, systems or behaviors that are intentionally or sub-consciously designed to put you at a disadvantage.
e.g. Setting up an appointment towards the end of the day – this is a signal that you are ‘entertainment for the end of the day’ rather than something serious.
e.g. Setting up for you to have to sign in in the lobby with no agreement to be met on time.
e.g. Receptionists trained to ignore you (certainly not trained to welcome you).
e.g. Humor, back slapping talk and social small talk – designed to avoid accountability.
e.g. Lack of structure / control at meetings and lack of accountability for being late to meetings
e.g. People not managing time and expecting you to move on their ‘time-line’
e.g. Emotional blackmailing
Hey! The list can go on. We humans are brilliant at coming up with imaginative ways to set up power-plays.
The first step is awareness!
- Normalization and Ownership
I dealt with this in my early years as an entrepreneur and got aware of one salient fact. Everytime I was frustrated, disappointed, resigned or derailed, there was always one person there – me! The other thing I realized was that there was very little to be gained by consistently falling into the same traps. My coach would smile at me (he rarely smiled) when I was in my ‘tizzy’ – “How much longer will you resist accepting what is not working and what could?”.
I realized that even though I was at the center of it all, blaming myself or others had no effect on my results.
What began to work was to see how ‘normal’ it was for human beings to conduct these power set-ups or plays – and that I was just as human
as they were!
That helped assuage some of the pain.
- Cost and Payoff Analysis
Next I started looking at the costs and payoffs of my responses to these power set-ups.
My responses were typically anger or wanting to give up.
The costs of my responses
1. I had no power.
2. I had no joy.
3. I was stressed.
4. I felt suppressed.
5. I made little money for my time.
The costs added up to EVERYTHING in my life.
The payoffs for my responses were
1. I avoided the situation and the truths.
2. I avoided looking for better markets of clients – perceived as too much work.
3. I avoided re-training – “How much more training can I do!?”
4. Making people wrong was easier than confronting them or learning how to do so in a cool way.
I knew the payoffs were not worth the costs.
Are they for you?
- Declare a New Context
I told myself and my coach “No more.. will I tolerate this. I have an awesome 5 year goal, there is NOTHING wrong with what I offer… I am going to value myself over the money I make.”
Phew! Life altered that week! Not only were people wanting to do more business – women (I was single at that time) started paying more attention, kids wanted to play with me..
heck 🙂 even animals were paying attention to me!
A shift occurs for others when they perceive that you have no attachment to an agenda but a clear commitment to do what is ‘right’.
- Strengthen the Context with Practice
I kept at the practices that my coach and I co-developed over those years:
1. When setting up appointments or giving my time, get super clarity on the time and be sure that people are alerted to the importance of being on time.
I do not care if they are Presidents, CEOs, Warren Buffets or Sophia Lorens – they need to be on time to respect both our collective times.
2. I learned and practiced ways to re-claim attention and not be attached to when others claim more attention – I recognized the game-like nature of it and was willing to play. Humor and a willingness to be different and challenging in a playful way really worked!
3. I do not spend a lot of time chasing after people who do not respect my value. I try to cater my time respectfully to all who come – but I am selective over where to spend this. Sounds arrogant? I do not come from there – (or maybe I do.. hmmm) but it may not matter if your intention is to serve and create win-win partnerships.
There are more practices, but hey… if you want to learn more, call me 🙂
- Shift Expectations Based on the Future rather than on the Past
This is the biggest ‘trick’ of all. If you conquer this, you have very little work to do. Creating an oustanding vision that lights you up will help keep you in the playful mood necessary to do business. Play does not mean trivial – you can be very serious about business and still have a sense of play and humor. But the glue (hint hint) is the vision.
- Laughter, Humor and Play
Be sure to practice the rigor of holding people (clients, VIPs, VPs, Celebrities, Ministers, Presidents, etc.) to account with a healthy dose of humor and play. This communicates to people that you have something special – an edge – and at the same time you are to be taken seriously.