When I stepped onto my front porch today, a miniature lime tree greeted me. Tiny white blossoms were laced among its deep green leaves, and elfin-sized limes drooped from the branches. A thank-you gift from my friend Judy. We had lunch a week ago where she asked my advice about a difficult conversation she was expecting to have at work.
Judy works in a museum teaching brigades of kids wildlife classes. She’s good, no, she’s great, at it, too. In addition to her master’s degree, Judy has decades of experience working with animals, kids, and nature. She receives accolades from her students and has been featured on television. Plus, I personally know how good she is. We first met when she was my equestrian instructor many, many years ago, back in the days when I rode hunters and jumpers competitively.
Some tough stuff has been brewing in her world, creating
a lot of emotional turmoil for quite a few people. Judy was concerned her words to the museum’s executive would result in strife or a negative outcome.
So, I gave her my best advice about what I would do. It worked. She called me last week relieved and delighted with her success and a great meeting. Now I have a beautiful gift from my precious friend. What could be better?
What did I say to Judy? Well, the exact details, I can’t tell you. What I can tell you is that she was about to make a couple of big errors had we not talked
along the following lines. You may find these three ideas helpful, too:
1. Do not bring up details, no matter how disturbing, of colleague’s past errors or things that cannot be changed. Have the emotional discipline to drop it. Let it go. This is not easy.
2. What is the ultimate outcome that you want from the meeting? Get clear about this before you go into the meeting. Brainstorm, explore possibilities with a friend or colleague until you really know what you want. Don’t be half-assed about it. Know.
3. Rehearse. Role play with someone. It is absolutely amazing what you will discover.
These seem like simple things, but applying them is difficult. Almost no one learns these things at home. On the contrary, we tend to learn the exact opposite. As kids we use every manipulative trick on the books to force, pressure, shame, or intimidate our parents and siblings into doing what we want them to do. Is it any wonder that emotionally charged business meetings can be so tough?
Still, it is amazingly fun to discover how, with a few tips, a little coaching, and some discipline, what you toss and turn over in the dark hours of the night, can become a pretty cool, an empowering event.