Let’s face it. We’re not always going to like every co-worker, supplier, vendor, and so on. Sure, it’s human nature to try to work with people we like, and most of us if we’re in a position to do so, we tend to pick vendors and supplies, for example, that we like better, even at the cost of price, quality, delivery, and more. Over the years I’ve made a conscious decision to go with quality and trustworthiness first, because at the end of the day the best interest of my clients matters more than whether I like the people who print my manuals or host my mastermind groups.
How then, do we find a balance where we can work with people we don’t like, especially when we’re in a position where we don’t have much choice?
Now, I’m a man, and we men tend to be able to work with almost anyone. Part of this is because how we tend to communicate. Men’s communication tends to be a bit primitive, it centers around status, not unlike wolves in a pack. As long as we all know our spot in the pack, we can get along well enough to function. Women, on the other hand tend to communicate for connection. Thus when a woman doesn’t like who she’s working with, connecting seems just about impossible. However, there are plenty of men and women whose ‘communication personality’ is a mix of these two styles, so let’s explore a few simple ways to deal with folks you just don’t like.
- Get over yourself. Most of our judgments concerning people are entirely subjective. Sometimes we’re just plain wrong in how we’re viewing them. Even when we’re right, if we let our dislike for someone get in the way of what could otherwise be a productive and profitable relationship, we’re just being childish. Who cares if you don’t like him? Focus on getting results, not on whatever it is about the person you don’t like.
- Re-train your brain. Find a way to overlook the things you don’t like and find something to like. I once had to work with an event planner who I thought was insincere and selfish. I don’t like selfish people, and I despise insincere people. However, he was good at what he did, and I’m a big believer in loving people where they’re at, even if they get on my nerves, so I made a conscious decision to find something about him to like. He was a pretty snappy dresser, so I thought of him in terms of his fashion sense, and as a result we got along well enough that when it was my time to speak, he gave me probably the best introduction I’ve ever received. Had I not overcome my dislike, I might have done or said something to piss him off, and that intro might not have been quite so good.
- Don’t get too caught up with #2. I’m not saying you have to force yourself to like everyone. Sometimes the best approach is to focus on the work that is to be done.
- So, how do I focus on the work? The easiest way is to determine what the measurable results need to be. As the old saying goes, if it gets measured, it gets done. The next thing to do is to check your ego at the door. Sometimes, when we don’t like someone, even determining what needs to get done can turn into a tug of war. In some cases, I’ve even let the person I don’t like take the lead, supported their ideas (unless they were really THAT bad), and let them think they were the ‘alpha dog’ just so we could get the project done, get paid, and go home. Another way is to work virtually. With things like DropBox and other online means of collaboration, we can now to a great extent remove ourselves from the personal space of people we don’t like.
I try my best to work with people I like, but when that’s not possible, this simple approach has helped me to get along with people even when I really just wanted to tar and feather them, so give it a try.
An intention without a decision is just a wish!
Who is being under-served in your market? In every market, there’s always what I like to refer to as the wall-flower client. They’ve come to the big dance, they’re all dolled up, but for some reason they go unnoticed, or just don’t think their prospects are that good, so they keep to themselves. There is an abundance of people and organizations living with problems that they aren’t even aware can be solved, or working with vendors and solutions providers who are marginal or “good enough for now.” A while back, I met a very determined but frustrated young woman. She was getting started as an energy market, but was unsure of who to pursue as clients, because she had a lot of competition at the usual industrial targets like warehouses and factories. I told her to go after large auto dealerships, private schools, local arenas, community theaters, and a few other kinds of organizations that aren’t normally thought of as ‘industrial,’ but which have very high energy usage. She’s doing quite well now.
Do what others can’t or won’t do (or do well). In the beauty industry, the vast majority of customers just accept that a moderately priced blow-dryer is going to last maybe a year before it stops working. In most grocery stores, line-ups are usually a nightmare. Yes, people often accept some things as ‘the nature of the beast,’ but an incredible opportunity is in store for the person who realizes that doing one of these things even a little better can create a customer service ‘wow’ factor.
What are the shortcomings of your industry? Every industry has faults, flaws, and downright ugly nasty bits. Understanding the problems of your industry is the first step toward becoming the solution – and profiting handsomely for doing so.
What upsets your ideal clients about your industry? Now, there are some that just get clients mad as hornets. Think of events, products, services, and individuals who caused a controversy because the customer experience was so bad. These are usually indicators of any number of underlying problems waiting to be solved – sometimes for a lot of money.
The more precisely you can answer these questions, the more precise you can be in your marketing. This also means you can be more specific in your branding, as well.
Don’t be the weather man. Make it rain.
A lot of us have a tendency to be a thermometer when it comes to dealing with the world. We’re ready to measure and evaluate what’s going on around us, and sometimes don’t do a thing to change it. Likewise, in business, I’ve found that a lot of entrepreneurs tend to be the weather man, always ready to inundate anyone who’s willing to listen with a detailed study of whatever market we happen to be in. Yes, it’s good to know your industry and its market conditions. It’s essential in many case. However, for your prospective client, partner or close colleague, this isn’t going to make them any money right now. At the end of the day, the bottom line is the bottom line.
One of the quickest ways to get the attention of a high value potential client, partner or colleague is to make it rain. Instead of just going straight to the pitch, find out how you can help bring them valuable business connections. One of the best clients I had on Wall Street was an electrical supply company that I connected to contractors who built arenas and mega-churches. Every time he saw me on his caller ID he KNEW he was about to make some money.
I’ll let you figure out how easy it was for me to close him.
Take one day every week to work ON your business. I tend to work on my business at least a little every day, but I like to reserve Mondays as primarily a day to work on my business. The added quality, refinement, ideas, polish and panache can only help you. It’s usually during these times that I get my best ideas. Once recent change for me was transitioning to a virtually paperless office. I have a notepad, my journal, and a sketchbook, and I still do contacts on paper, for obvious reasons. Everything else is digital, and backed up constantly. This has saved me from the time sink of filing, managing a mess of paperwork, and more.
What can you do this week to work on how you do business? What adjustments can you make to how you’re pursuing your dreams?