The one communication tip that will save your *#%$. Really.

Is there a proverb that says, “What we thinketh, we sayeth”? If there isn’t, I’m coining it. Spoiler alert: This doesn’t have a happy ending.

It was November 2008 when five people, after hearing my presentation at an industry association event, approached me about contacting their CEO to speak at their November 2009 sales meeting. They would love me to speak to their company, they each agreed, so they could learn more, especially if I would craft the content specifically for their sales organization’s needs. They gave me their CEO’s name and data, said I could use all their names, and that I shouldn’t give up because they knew the training would help their company drive revenue.

December 11, 2008.
I started “warm” prospecting the CEO with an email, quickly explained why I was contacting him (the referral from his sales associates), attached an article (published that day!) about his industry and said I’d call the first week of January to talk about ideas that, based on the insights I’d be given, might help his team convert more leads and build new business.

January, 2009
Phoned as promised. Left a voice message saying I was sorry to have missed him, that I’d follow up mid-March if I hadn’t heard from him, and left my phone number in case he had a few minutes to talk about some ideas to help his team close more business and boost productivity, too.

April 16, 2009
I email, attaching a motivational business YouTube video (no, not one of mine – one that was just beginning to go viral and eventually had millions of hits because it was amazing). I said I’d phone later that month to talk about possibilities to energize and provide practical content to help his team sell more, more easily at his November 2009 sales meeting.

April 28, 2009. Left message

June 11, 2009 Left message.

August 1, 2009
Sent email with a copy of my ezine attached, mentioning it had several points about selling and email skills – specific to what his sales associates had been interested in. I say I’ll call after his November sales meeting to talk about 2010.

November 18, 2009.
I email Thanksgiving greetings.

January 17, 1010. Voice message left.
April 1, 2010. Email sent.
June 29, 2010. Voice message left.
July 15, 2010. Email sent.
November 19, 2010. Email sent.

November 19, 2010
Response! Response! Yay! Yay! Perseverence. Persistence. The pay off! (Not so fast…)
He emails: “I get speakers to speak for free for referrals. We have speakers who pay us to speak to our people.”

Here is where I know better than to do what I did. (I teach this stuff. Don’t email when you’re upset. Respond, don’t react. Breathe.) But I did it anyway. I wrote back:

Then you really don’t want me.

Just curious, is that what you teach your sales associates? To do stuff and not receive compensation for their expertise?

I promise to stop pestering you.

OMG! Am I nuts?! I spent two years trying to build a relationship with this guy and I shoot myself in the foot.

I haven’t slept since I sent the reply (which was about a nanosecond after receiving his email, too late at night for either of us to be still working).

How? How will I stop myself from ever being sucked into another person’s negativity again? By not thinking of it as negative. By making the choice to change my backstory – the story I was telling myself about this guy’s motivations in sending such a curt email after all this time – to think to myself (and here, finally, is the message of this post!), I like this person. As simple as that.

I like this person.

If I had said to myself “I like this person,” I probably would have laughed aloud (and laughing would have changed my physiological state and I would have written a better email, but I digress!)! and then, because I said I liked him, would have to find an authentic reason to do so. And there are plenty:
He only speaks when he has something to say.
He told me his truth.
He isn’t interested.
He doesn’t pay speakers.

If I had just taken one moment and four words to change what I was thinketh-ing, I could have said-ith something like this:
Thanks so much for explaining. I am grateful for your forthright response and will look forward to working with you if the situation changes. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
All the best.

See what I mean.

What we thinketh, we sayeth. Be sure you thinketh good thoughts!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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