Have you ever needed to confront someone about poor performance or an unacceptable behavior and walked into the meeting worried about creating a bigger problem for yourself, fearful of their response–and the meeting ended poorly?
Have you ever gone into a meeting thinking to yourself, “I sure hope I don’t make myself look stupid.” Then, to avoid looking stupid, you end up remaining silent, leading others to assume you are either timid, or lack knowledge, or simply aren’t assertive enough to speak up.
Have you ever walked into a job interview thinking, “I’m not sure I’m really qualified for this job…some of the things it calls for I’ve had no experience with.” As a result, you walk out sensing that you didn’t get the job–and you’re right. You didn’t.
Whenever you open your mouth to speak, you set your tongue on fire with the power to build or destroy. And it all begins with your intentions.
As a leader or person of influence, the heat that ignites what you put on your lips comes from what you hold in your heart, and what you hold in your heart will either create or limit what’s possible. The words you speak reveal your heart’s condition (your intentions) — a good indicator of whether your actions will work for or against you.
My client Jim, a senior leader in his organization, was telling me about an upcoming meeting with a disgruntled customer. A lot was riding on the meeting. If it went well, his company would get a flood of new business; if it didn’t, his company stood to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in existing business. He was feeling pressure to perform well. His first comment was, “This is going to be a difficult meeting.” His face and body registered anxiety.
I asked for the story behind the need for the visit, including Jim’s intentions for the meeting. He told me a story of missed deadlines, inaccurate information, and sloppy workmanship on the part of his organization. All of which, he said, was true. But as he discussed the problems the customer had experienced, Jim also expressed empathy for his client. He spoke at length about what his company was doing to change things so that no client would ever experience such poor service again. Jim focused on what he would say, the assurances he would provide, and the documentation he would bring to the meeting as proof that he was a man of his word — that they could count on him and his company to come through for them in the future. By the time he’d finished, he was filled with positive energy, ready to jump on a plane and meet his client face-to-face.
What started out as a meeting that was “going to be difficult” turned into a meeting where genuine empathy would be expressed and where solutions and personal guarantees would be given. What started out in feelings of fear turned into feelings of power and energy and a deep personal commitment to fulfill on promises made. I was convinced that Jim’s natural optimism, combined with clear positive intentions for the meeting, would make all the difference between success and failure.
By clarifying his intentions (the condition of his heart), he was able to interpret the upcoming meeting in a more favorable light. This generated possibility that ultimately led to personal success and significant business gains for his company. Had he not considered his intentions, or had his intentions been for selfish gain, fear might have reigned at the meeting, thereby seriously hindering chances for the positive outcome he enjoyed.
Possibility is created when our heart’s condition (our intention) is positive. When we focus on positive intentions, instead of our fears, the words coming out of our mouths propel us (and those with whom we are interacting) toward possibilities.
Be your own best coach. Answer the following:
· If you were to monitor your conversations 24/7, what words would fall from your lips? Do they create or limit possibility?
· Before holding a meeting of any kind, do you first review your own positive intentions? Do you share those intentions in your meeting?
· To get a positive outcome at your next meeting, what would you need to do to remind yourself to review your own positive intentions?