February 19, 2018

Refined or just reticent?

Group of people listeningOr is it just natural human reticence that most of us could do with overcoming (though some were never troubled in this way)?

For many, we need to work at putting ourselves out there to be judged. It’s uncomfortable, or seems so at first. But arguably it’s part of the natural human journey of increasing maturity, if we choose that particular part of the path.

How do you decide whether you are being admirably refined or just unwisely and over-cautiously reticent?

The wrong choice could be holding you back and, conversely, a change could propel you forward.

Just because something is comfortable, doesn’t mean it’s right: It just means it’s our usual habit—a familiar, programmed pattern that was helpful once but perhaps not any more.

How direct can we / should we / must we be?

Mixed group of peopleIt depends, of course…

…on the situation, our formal role within it (if any), our personal power or authority in the specific circumstances, the personalities of other people involved, and what we want or need to achieve.

If our aim is to make a difference in a professional situation, then we may well need to be more direct than would generally be considered socially conventional.

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on just how much that’s true—in my experience anyway. I’ve found I’ve benefited from being more challenging, as has the work, even though it can feel really uncomfortable to be so direct. Sometimes that’s what’s needed though.

Yes, of course…

We need to build a relationship, and that may require some caution and patience, but if that’s all we do, we probably won’t pass the “so what?” test. We might have to wait till next time for that. And the trouble is there might not be a next time.

Obviously, it helps if we can build trust and a strong relationship quickly—and, naturally, there are skills to that—and our reputation helps. Then we’ve more chance of success when we move into a more challenging part of the conversation.

But we do need to move into that more direct phase… if we want an outcome anyway.

How direct do you choose to be? Is that direct enough? Or sometimes too much?

There’s no single right answer here, but it’s worth thinking about.

More than one path to meeting a need?

Fork in a pathWe might not be able to address someone’s needs directly: We may not be able to provide the specific thing they say they are looking for right now.

But perhaps we can see something even more important we believe they need—something they don’t see themselves, so much so that when we attempt to offer them that contribution they aren’t interested, or at least not interested enough to take action.

But the thing is…

At a higher level, what we’re offering probably does ultimately meet a need they do acknowledge and regard as important—important enough to take action about. And that higher need might well be the one their initial desire also fulfils.

So, asking what their stated need will achieve for them, and what that new outcome will in turn deliver, possibly several times over, can take them to where our path meets theirs.

For example, many people ultimately are driven by a desire for peace of mind, even in business, and no doubt what we’re offering contributes to that too.

But we need to join the dots and show how we can help them meet their ultimate need, if not their immediate one.

The closer you to take them to the top of the mountain, the more likely it is their path meets yours.

How do you help people see you can assist them?