There are easily fifty thousand religious groups in the world, most of whom claim to have the inside track to Heaven. Their adherents insist you join them. Ditto for thousands of political parties. Inevitably, some of their representatives (Believers and proselytizers) will accost you with a view to recruiting you. Mostly, this is just background noise.
But when the Believer is someone important to you-- a child, a spouse, a brother, a work colleague, an old friend, you can’t just blow them off. If the relationship is to be preserved, it’s going to be up to you.
First, understand your very different perspectives. The Believer’s "Big Picture" and your "Big Picture" are radically different. To the Believer, it’s “Get on board or go to Hell”, but you, in good conscience can’t see it that way. The Believer is prepared to gamble the relationship. You, on the other hand, want to preserve it. If the relationship is going to be preserved, there’s only one person who can do it-- you!
Frankly, there are no snappy answers, but there are a few principles which may help:
1. Make it clear that in this conversation you are the host, they are the guest.
2. Respect them: the person opposite shares 99.9% of your DNA. But for the grace of God, you might be in their shoes.
3. Respect their dream. To you, their message may be abhorrent. To them it has become central to their identity. If you show disdain, you will lose them.
4. Show humility. There is a possibility you are not the smartest person on the planet. Be prepared to listen, respectfully.
5. Discern why this conversation is happening. Are they earning “points”, or are they genuinely concerned for your welfare? Do they really understand what they’re selling, or are they playing a recording? Be patient--remember, you are the host.
6. If they are genuinely concerned for your welfare, express your gratitude. This is not the same as agreeing with their position.
7. Hear them out before you respond. Don’t be in a rush to counterattack.
8. Questions are better than attack-- far better to leave them doubting themselves than to provide evidence that you are an agent of Satan.
9. Understand their fear-- if they were to begin to question their own position, in their logic, they may be risking Hell. Don’t take that lightly-- would you?
10. Once you have patiently and courteously heard them out, ask “Is there anything else?” Be sure they have “said their piece”.
11. End the conversation cordially, let them go away and reflect.
12. Make sure they understand that you love them because of who they are, regardless of what they believe.
If you do this, it will likely end well.
Go in peace!
Hope this helps! Send to a friend.
You’re under the gun, but your brain is paralyzed. Mush. Frozen. Your expertise is a myth, your talents are on vacation, and creative juices have dried to dust.
You sit staring at the screen, immobilized by the pending train-wreck. You want to pull the covers over your head and cry yourself to sleep.
That was exactly me when I sat down to write this very Friday Briefing. I couldn’t even think of a topic! That’s the worst kind of Writer’s Cramp.
And then I realized that was my topic!
Here’s what works for me every time I suffer Writer’s Cramp:
1. Focus and prioritize. Allow no distractions.
2. Commit the time to get this done, whatever it takes. Allow yourself a short health break every hour, but permit no escape hatches.
3. Sketch a simple outline of exactly what you need to deliver. Any style that works for you is fine, but you need to get a visual of the job.
4. Start somewhere. Anywhere. If your work product must be persuasive, such as a legal pleading, write out your concluding paragraphs. In many cases, a serviceable title will get you going. Just start. The trick is to force yourself to get moving.
5. Be patient. Initially, you won’t care much for your developing work product, but as you keep grinding away you will begin to like parts of it.
6. Play with these good bits – move them around, fill in between them, revise them, write sequels and prequels. Soon you will see a cohesive entirety emerging. There is a magic to this-- it will inject the enthusiasm that was missing.
7. As you realize that you are out of the woods you will be enormously tempted to put the piece aside to attend to other important matters. Don’t. You will lose the momentum. Continue to fill and move and cut and revise and polish until you have a work product with which you could go public.
8. Now, if time allows, put your finished product aside and give yourself a good break, or even come back to it the next day. Fresh eyes will take your work from good to great. If those fresh eyes belong to someone else, so much the better!
Hope this helps! Send to a friend.
(Side note: when you are removing bits, don’t delete them; rather cut and paste them at the end of your work. They may come in handy.)
On a related productivity note, you may find my blog “A Toad Day” helpful. It’s also on LinkedIn.
Working together, we can make you a powerful communicator!
Does voice mail drive you crazy? Me, too. I hate it. Everything about it. I hate leaving it. I hate getting it.
In thirty-six years as a lawyer, I’ve heard about twenty good voice messages, and three zillion bad ones, including dogs barking, throat clearing, restaurant noise, the lion cage at the zoo, and what was probably a domestic altercation. These ones all mercifully hung up without any identifying information.
But most of them go something like this: "Uhhhh, Norm? Oh, um, I guess you're not there! Um, oh, well, I just thought I'd call, but you're not there. Um. Oh. Well, um, oh, uh, yes, well, yeah. Oh, yes, um, uh, call me if you have a chance. Bye."
I'd love to call them back and tell them they sounded like an idiot, but I don't do that for three reasons. First, I'm a nice guy. Second, they didn't identify themselves or leave a phone number.
But third, mostly because it would be an act of great hypocrisy. I've left far more than my share of babbling gibberish. The telephone was mature technology before I was born, yet the thing still terrifies me, especially when there's no live voice on the other end.
But here's the thing: we all know that voice mail happens-- it's an inconvenient truth of professional life. And, as professionals, we don't want to sound foolish.
So, what's to be done? Well, the trick is to be ready for the times you get a machine. Here are a few helpful tips:
1. Be emotionally and intellectually ready for the eventuality. Seriously!
2. It's not impolite or un-Canadian to exit without leaving a message.
3. If you do leave a message, speak clearly and pleasantly.
4. Visualize the listener and be engaging.
5. At the outset, announce yourself and leave your phone number. Twice.
6. Give a succinct reason for your call, not your life story.
7. To increase your chance of a response, leave a hook.
8. Repeat your name and phone number, clearly and strongly.
9. Sign off in a friendly and appropriate manner.
If voice mail absolutely terrifies you, keep a little script near your phone, something like this, "Hi, (the other person), this is (your name). Sorry I missed you. I'd be really grateful if you could get back to me at (your number) at your earliest. I just wanted to follow up on ___________________________. I have a few questions. Again, it's (your name), (your number). Looking forward to hearing from you!"
Norman Bowley is a communicator by passion, a lawyer and educator by profession. Thirty-six years of legal practice after ten years as an educator have equipped Norm to teach professionals how to communicate effectively and with power.