“Eat! Have some more to eat!” These words could’ve come from my mother or any number of friends, family members, and colleagues along my way. ” You eat like a bird! Here, have some more.”
After my “You’re very kind and no, thank you”, I would have watched eyes roll and heard any number of reasons why I should eat more and should gain weight including, “You’re too thin; if you get sick, you’ll have no reserves.”
On this particular evening, my friend’s verbal encouragement (“Eat! Have some more to eat!”) followed by her presentation of a broadly heaping bowl of buttery, cheese-drenched pasta just struck me the wrong way.
My dinner companion could not have known how much I’d eaten in the previous month, week, or day (she was just trying to be helpful, after all) because she hadn’t had the benefit of observing me eat or exercise and she hadn’t asked any questions.
So, I experienced her offers of judgmental encouragement and cheesy pasta as sharply irritating.
We can inadvertently trigger ‘sharply irritated’ reactions with our prospects and clients in much the same way.
We may see that a client’s or prospect’ business-as-usual falls short of current best practices or recommended standards. We may see their ignorance of current research. We may see that their business-as-usual is sending them in directions that may be harmful or contrary to their stated goals.
However, our clients and prospects have survival instincts, too, here quoting Henry David Thoreau: “”If you see a man approaching you with the obvious intent of doing you good, you should run for your life.”
Our prospects’ and clients’ business-as-usual is the way it is because of a set of beliefs, conclusions, commitments, or interpretations about which we know nothing until we ask some questions about their journeys to this point, about their assessments of their current situations, about what’s important to them, or about their visions or plans for the future.
And then, after we’ve gained some understanding, our challenge is to prompt our clients to be curious or thoughtful about other approaches and strategies before we present them with plates full of cheesy solutions for which they haven’t asked, lest they feel irritated and leave the table.
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