Stupid obstacles often come in the form of people’s opinions, corporate policy, changes of direction, fire drills, conflicting goals, delayed decisions, unclear strategies, shall I go on?
It’s always important to remember that you can’t blame your failure on other people being stupid.
Six months or a year down the road, if the reason that you didn’t get something done is because someone else has or hasn’t done has something, you have lost.
The right language
Clearing an obstacle that is being put in place by another person or policy has everything to do with language.
And there are two language techniques I have found to be really useful to get things going your way again when you are confronted with difficult, rigid, indecisive, or stupid people.
1. What is the NAME of the Meeting the other person would WANT to attend?
For example, If your requests for a program change in other organization are going ignored, the name of the meeting YOU want to have with the manger is called something like, “You are doing this wrong and I need you to change it, because it’s killing me”.
But would they really want to attend that meeting?
Change the name of the meeting to name their problem, not yours.
When you are trying to get someone to do something for you, you need to name the meeting something that is relevant and motivating to them. “I want to discuss how my team can solve your most critical competitive issue, with no increased cost on your part”.
Then when you have the meeting, make sure to stay relevant to them. Describe your problem in the context and actual vocabulary of the business problems they are facing right now, and how the action you are requesting is directly beneficial to them.
If you don’t use the right language, you will not be relevant to them, and you will continue to go unheard, and un-helped.
2. “I’m hoping you can help me…”
The angrier and more frustrated you are, the more you are likely to start a conversation with something like, This is all messed up because [of something you, (or the people you represent are doing)]
Do you really expect their reaction to be helpful at this point? Wow. thank you for telling me how stupid and wrong I am. You are so smart, please tell me what do do next? I am at your service.
Even if it is all their fault, if you need to influence them to do something better or different, a far more useful approach is to open with, “I’m hoping you can help me”.
I use this not only colleagues, but with utility companies, hotels, and health insurance providers all the time. It works like a charm. I guess, because you are using some charm…
Engage people to WANT to help you
When someone says to me, “I’m hoping you can help me…”, I always think, “hmmm… I wonder what this challenge might be? Can I really help? I’m kind of hoping I can help …
This approach builds people up instead of cutting them down. They have power to help if they choose to. Giving this small bit of respect makes them want to help you. People generally like to help.
If you don’t attack them first and tell them how wrong and incompetent they are, you stand a far greater chance of getting what you need from them.
I know it is frustrating when the people you are dealing with are actually wrong and/or stupid, but if they are indeed creating an obstacle, it’s your job to clear the obstacle and get the job done, not to prove that you are right and demand their support.