Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What is the difference between judgment and judgmental?

I often get asked if we are judgmental by nature. My answer is "no, but we are protective by nature." This means that everything we do or say we filter through how it affects us. If the impact is going to be negative our behavior tries to protect us and stops us from doing what is requested of us.

For leaders to be effective they need to learn the difference between judgment and judgmental. Let's move away from dictionary answers to the words and instead look at the emotional answers to the words.

Judgment is good. It is what allows you to see right from wrong, good from bad. It is the moral compass that keeps you from stealing and lying. With Outcome Thinking you never suspend judgment but you do suspend judgmental thinking.

Judgmental is when you inflict your opinion or belief on to another person and decide you know why they did what they did. This usually happens because our brain is wired to automatically think "now why would I do that if I was that person?" But as we teach in our classes, that is erroneous thinking that will cause you to have a judgmental conversation with a person and shut them down.

In order to have a good healthy discussion with a person you do want to have good judgment but suspend being judgmental.

Anne Warfield,

Does Your Conversation Bring Barriers Up Or Down?

Avoidance. That is the biggest word we hear from leaders when they talk about having to deal with conflict.
Repetitive. That is the second word we hear from leaders as they tell us they are tired of having the same discussion over and over again without getting results.

So what can you do to change that? Is there a way to converse with someone that gets lasting results?

In IMP's Conflict Harmonizer that is exactly what we show you how to do. In order to speak differently though you need to learn why your brain listens, responds, and reacts to what it hears. I won't go in depth on that here but I will give you an example so you can see it in action and reflect on your conversations in order to make changes.

Let;s look at an example: You are stressed out with a lot on your plate. You have 10 people on your direct team. Most work independently and just keep you in the loop on what they are working on. For the most part your team are doers that get things done. Mary, one of your team members, comes to you and says, "I feel like you don't give enough direction. This causes me to waste time on projects because I am not sure which part I should work on first. I feel like if you gave more guidance I could be more effective but when I ask you for it you treat me like I can't do my job. I want to talk to you about this."

Now for just a moment check your immediate response. Did you immediately start thinking about what was on your plate that was making it hard to give more direction? Did your brain go to justifying that everyone else on the team is doing well without heavy guidance so it must be a problem with Mary? Did you start to wonder if Mary could do her job? In other words did you feel that Mary judged you in what she said in any way?

When we feel judged we automatically move to defensive thinking. All of the above statements are examples of defensive thinking. They are where our brain goes in order to protect ourselves when we feel someone is attacking us or what we are doing. None of them are conducive to a talk that will get to the core issues and beliefs that need to change in order for you to get the results you need.

The conversation Mary was having with you is one that is traditionally taught to us. With conflict we are taught to focus on how we feel and why we feel that way. This doesn't help you as it leads your brain to reach in and find ways to protect your position rather than remove the barriers so you can have a healthy discussion. So with traditional communication the dialogue ends up having you slip in comments that can make the other person feel attacked, blamed, or judged. When any of those happen the other person stops listening and just moves to protecting themselves. In other words, a conversation will happen but no lasting change will take place because each person has their brain energy invested in holding on to their own position.

This is why a majority of leaders we work with have repeat conversations with employees about their performance. What you say each time never sinks in long-term but instead falls in to the "protection void" and the person keeps repeating that same behavior until you either let it slide or your fire them. IMP's Conflict Harmonizer Experience is all about how to have those gutsy talks so they take root rather than flight!

So let's take the same conversation and apply the Outcome Thinking Method to see how you can think and speak in a way that removes the automatic barriers in order to get to core beliefs and lasting changes without judgment. Imagine your reaction if Mary had instead come in and said, "One of the challenges I have given myself is to be more effective with what I do and how I do it. One of the things you are great at with your team is giving us autonomy to do things independently. One of the things I have noticed about me is that I produce more when I have some more guidance so I stay focused right away. What I would like to brainstorm with you are ways I can get that guidance while still fitting in to the autonomy you like us to all have. I know you have a lot on your plate and I would like to be more useful in getting things done for you."

Notice in this conversation Mary never blames you, makes you feel attacked or undermines your authority. Instead she is realistic about herself, you and the role she can play. She put things in terms of benefits for you and team more than she did about herself. She also stated that she wants to figure out how to get that guidance without disrupting your natural leadership style. This shows you respect for you while still staying focused on the outcome desired- to produce better work faster.

Outcome Thinking is a skill that allows you to get rid of judgmental statements that become the clogs in our communication. It eradicates the anger and frustration that can shut a team down, cause silos in your company, and cause leaders to not come to conclusive decisions.

TAKE ACTION: Practice with your next conversation to make sure that you are focusing it proactively for the other person. Start with the point of agreement, move to the desired change, and then the roadmap of how to get there. You will find you can have more robust discussions without tears, anger or frustration!

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finding Profits in a Down Turn Economy

Sharks hunt for prey by finding movement in the water or blood. In today's economy you can often find people mistakenly adopt a "shark" sales mentality. They feel they need to circle out there and surround customers by getting to them first. First smell of blood in the water and they go for it.

You can see this in the way traditional sales is set up for questioning. Think back to the last three sales calls you either gave or received. If you are like most of our clients, they describe an "awkward period" where questions were volleyed out left and right as the sales person tried to make a connection and to find out a need they could solve. During this process both parties sit back and warily circle each other. Much like the shark in the water.

It doesn't need to be that way. There is a way to sell and service clients that doesn't require the leery circling of each other. There is a way to become a trusted partner. It requires a different way of thinking, listening, and speaking though. You can't be transactional and just pound with questions. The prospect knows where you are going with this and they don't appreciate being the worm on the hook to lure the shark. Oh, wait, to them you are the shark!

There is another bad point to the pounding of questions- it has been proven that when clients become confused or upset, they choose to stay "status quo." That means even though you may have a better deal they will stay with their present deal or pain because it seems easier to them.

Your job is not to sell. Your job is to help them make a choice that will propel their company forward. This means you need to know how to build rapport, threadline your questions and facts, and focus the energy in the room by excavating in a whole new way.

Try this, write out the questions you usually ask clients. Then play Devil's Advocate. Change the product or service you are selling and then ask the questions out loud to yourself. Do they make you feel cornered, pressured, or dumb? Or do they focus on driving the customer to your solution versus digging to find out what their problem is? If so, you are asking attack "solution" questions. You want to ask ProbeQs™ that draw people in, give them control, and bring out their wisdom and insight at the same time they enlighten them.

Think of it this way, imagine you go to see a doctor about a heart problem. Would you want a doctor that had a treatment in mind and they just asked you questions to draw you toward doing that solution or would you prefer a doctor that listened, and then asked probing questions to first determine if you even have a heart problem before they even talked to you about a solution? So if we prefer, the second scenario, why do companies keep equipping their sales people with sales strategies that teach them how to find how their solution can fit a client but not the deeper pain that could lead to a lasting partnership? We just got a call the other day from a client that reduced their sales cycle by 70% by flipping to the Outcome Focus™ Approach to Sales Excavation. The best part she said was that she never felt like she was selling; she was just helping the client.

TAKE ACTION: Try changing your list to make it more inviting, intriguing and more centered on the clients problem, not your solution.

Anne Warfield,

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Do They Still Want the Presidency?

Controversial title, eh? What would cause me to even put that in a blog?

It was interesting watching the debates Tuesday. Of course there were rules that impacted that ability of the two speakers to address each other and to address the crowd. Rules such as that they couldn't come within 6 feet of each other.

As I watched the debates I thought at times McCain won and at times Obama won. I don't think it was a clear hands down for either of them.

But what really struck me was where they both struggled. During the talks on the financial dilemma in our country, they each had times they stuttered, stammered, missed words, switched the mike in their hands and blinked-- all signs that they were struggling with the questions and their answers. It got me also thinking, do either of them want this mess we are in? Do either of them truly feel they can positively impact it or are they just hopeful?

I asked myself, "are we seeing these troubling body language and speaking signs from them because they are now questioning what they got in to?" Neither of them had strong confident body language as they talked about our economy and what needs to happen.

When you saw each of them pause and grasp for words, that means their brain was trying to wrap around the question and come to a conclusion they were comfortable with. Yet neither was able to do just that.

So here is your thought for the day: When have you been in a stumbling spot? How do you train your brain, and yes it is a training of the brain, to handle difficult questions and reach for the proactive solution? When you stumble or trip on your words what comes across is a lack of confidence and leadership.

In this debate, I would say neither candidate won or lost. I would say, as a nation, we need to keep our eyes wide open. Click here to see how you can get your hands on a FREE body language DVD so you can read the candidates body language.

Anne Warfield,