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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #95: August, 2011

  • If you don’t want to take “no” for an answer, don’t provide “yes or no” questions!

  • Anticipate where you want the conversation to end and work backwards in your planning. Too many business discussions are aimless and irrelevant.

  • Asking questions is never the key. Asking the right question is the key. What information or agreement do you require?

  • Stop others from rambling. “Excuse me, but let me summarize what I’ve heard to ensure I’m hearing you correctly.”

  • Warning sign: Many people actually articulate their cognitive processes. Don’t allow that, stop them.

  • Warning sign: Many people relate background through long narratives of “he said, then I said….” Stop them, too.

  • If there’s an interruption, re-prime the conversation with, “We were talking about….”

  • If you’re ever unsure or you think what you’re hearing is plain wrong, ask, “Can you give me an example of that in your business?”

  • Have your own examples prepared in advance and in your notes, even if you don’t have to use them on many occasions. Only the gifted few can extemporaneously cite examples that are powerful and relevant.

  • Watch for cognitive dissonance: saying one thing, but acting in another manner entirely. If the client says, “Responsiveness is one of our basic values,” then why are all the phone ringing and going to voice mail?
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