Assume the Positive

Positive And Negative Written On Piece Of Paper

Start With The Positive

You’re flipping channels on the television when all of a sudden you land on a game show. You hear the crowd shouting answers.  The person playing the game is trying to answer the host of the show, hoping to win big.  In the background you can see a gleaming new car.

You don’t intend to watch, but you want to see what happens. The contestant squints, grimaces, and tentatively answers.

Almost instantaneously you hear a loud buzzer going off.  The obnoxious sound signals the end of the dream.

Game Over.

Some people seem to wait in the wings as if watching a game show.  Whatever you do, whatever you say, they are sitting in judgment.  They wait for the opportunity to hit the buzzer, to declare you wrong, to declare “game over.”

Do you know someone like that?

You never hear a word of encouragement.  You never hear a positive word.  It’s not that it is hard to elicit a positive response; it’s impossible.

But they are quick to point out a misspelling.  They are fast hitting reply and telling you how disappointed they are in something.

I once knew someone who was apt at pointing out what was wrong.  He was in my office, complaining about someone.  My advice to him was, “Assume the positive. Give the person the benefit of the doubt.  Ask some questions.  Don’t be so quick to condemn and complain.”

 

“Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” –Stephen Covey

Assume positive intent.

What if it wasn’t an attack, but was a mistake?

What if it wasn’t a mistake, but a miscommunication?

What if it wasn’t a miscommunication, but an oversight?

What if it wasn’t an oversight, but was caused by an undisclosed personal issue?

 

There are so many times when we need to step back.  Instead of complaining, blaming and assuming the worst, pause and reflect.

Someone recently sent me a surprising note accusing me of ignoring his email.  What he didn’t know: I was on an international flight and did not have access to email for fifteen hours.

Overcoming Rejection: Why No is A Good Thing

Business Expression Say No

Every No is One Step Closer to a Yes

When I think of overcoming objections, I immediately think about sales professionals and sales training.  The fact is that sales training is a key skill for aspiring leaders whether you are in the sales profession or not.

After all, objections are not only an exercise in closing a sale.  Every leader experiences rejection.  If you don’t have the skills to overcome the occasional “no,” you will have difficulty leading anyone or anything.

Sales is not only closing business.  It also is about selling ideas.  In fact, in today’s social media age, it is often about selling yourself.  Personal branding and standing out from the crowd are important skills.

9780446692748Recently, I had the opportunity to interview someone who has forgotten more about overcoming objections than I will ever know.  Early in my career, I found his work to be extraordinarily helpful, and I have continued to learn from him through the years.  Tom Hopkins has shared the stage with everyone from General Norman Schwarzkopf to former President George Bush and Lady Margaret Thatcher.  His first book How to Master the Art of Selling has sold over 1.7 million copies.  His latest book, When Buyers Say No: Essential Strategies for Keeping a Sale Moving Forward, shares his insights on rejection and the sales process.

 

“I never take advice from anyone more messed up than I am.” -Tom Hopkins

 

Understanding “No”

Why Adapting in the Social Age is Key to Survival

Hand Holding A Social Media 3D Sphere

Do you think social media is something to assign to the marketing department?

Do you think social is mainly about getting out your message?

Do you understand that the Social Age changes everything?

 

Adapting to a Social World

I recently had the opportunity to talk with my friends, Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt about their new book A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

They are both social media experts who help leaders and companies understand and thrive in the new social age.  Ted Coiné is co-founder of one of my favorite leadership communities, Switch & Shift and he was named a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer.  Mark Babbitt is CEO and founder of YouTern, a social community for college students and young professionals.

 

“Social is not a campaign. Social is a commitment.” -Stan Phelps

 

Talk to the corporate leader who really is not online; the executive who maybe has a Twitter account but hasn’t signed in for a year.  What does she miss?

Business leaders not active on social are missing an asset that decision-makers in the Social Age desperately need to remain relevant and to spot trends: real-time, unfiltered market intelligence.

Through social listening, we learn what our customers are saying about us as they say it.  We observe how our brand is perceived.  We also see what our competition is up to – and perhaps even opportunities they’re missing because they are NOT listening.

Suggestion boxes?  Focus groups?  Surveys?  Those tools were all great in the Industrial Age – but they can’t begin to compare to the real-time market intelligence available to us for free on social.

 

Downsides of Social Media

Let’s flip to the other side: What are the downsides of social media?

Social media is an equal-opportunity amplifier. It amplifies the good, certainly.  But it also amplifies the bad.  Be insensitive, act unethically, mistreat a customer or employee, kick a dog in an elevator, put short term profits over people – or even this-quarter profits over common sense – and your brand will suffer.  Because today – through what we call the “Social Robin Hood Syndrome,” where the public is more than ready to rally in order to right a wrong – a complaint can very quickly become a tsunami of bad press.

While these downsides of social are very real, the vast majority of social horror stories are caused by ignorance, corporate arrogance, unethical leaders, uninspiring or even abusive employers – all who become easy targets when customers, employees and watchdogs turn to social for justice.

Fortunately, this phenomenon is also a positive; this forced accountability helps leaders realize that we must run our organizations in an ethical, honest fashion.  And if you’ve been leading in a commendable way all along, this amplification feature of social is your company’s best friend.  Over time, you’ll earn the market share of your less-than-exemplary rivals.

 

“If you’re not serving the customer, your job is to be serving someone who is.” -Jan Carlzon

 

 

Adapt to Survive

The subtitle of your book is “How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.” What are some of the dangers of a company largely ignoring social media?

What we learned from trend watching over the last five years is that social isn’t a technology radically affecting how we lead our organizations. Rather, the Social Age is a new era; social has changed business forever. The Industrial Age had a good run, but it’s over.

The business world is already showing us what happens when companies continue to operate under Industrial Age “best practices.” Look at the fate of JCPenney and Sears versus Amazon and its 17 million likes on Facebook. Ford, with its exceptional community building, and to a certain extent, new kid Tesla, are doing amazing work on social compared to competitors General Motors and Chrysler. And think about all the old-school beverage companies that are struggling while Red Bull rocks social media with 36 million likes on Facebook and 1.5 million followers on Twitter.

 

3 Recommendations for a Customer-First Social Strategy