How To Be Right: Without making other people wrong

What exactly are we trying to accomplish by proving to others that we’re right? We might win the argument but ultimately lose the relationship. Perhaps a better, deeper-rooted question is this: Why do we lose sight of success, of our big objective when we feel challenged or intimidated?

When I prepare to negotiate, provide a service or turn my employees’ talent into performance, I know deep down that if I make people feel valuable they will see my input as having value. But in that moment when they are just hands-down across-the-board dead wrong, I sometimes can’t stop myself from letting them know how incredibly wrong they are. When that happens, my ability to influence them vaporizes on the spot, and I’m left dealing with the response I created by making them wrong.

I think this is the most consistently counterproductive thing we do in business and, I suspect, in our personal lives too. It may be the foundation of communication breakdown. Maybe this behavior is so prevalent because it’s part of human nature. Could we be natural born jerks? (Jerkdom – nature or nurture?) If so, how do we overcome the urge to prove our point at the expense of our business or relationship?

Wynn Solutions studied thousands of top communicators and saw a common behavior among them: the practice of not making people wrong. We decided to find out how they did it.

We discovered that these top communicators lowered their expectations of other people’s behavior before meeting with them face to face. It seemed to reduce the tendency to overreact in the heat of the moment. Also, they walked in the door with an agenda of not making the other person wrong and of looking for areas where the other person’s knowledge was strong. So when that moment came – when other people made their limited knowledge obvious – top communicators were not so ready to pounce.

This approach may sound a bit condescending to some, but it sure beats dealing with communication issues you create for yourself by having to prove you’re the smartest person in the room. It allows you to be right without making others feel wrong.

Garrison Wynn is a nationally known keynote speaker, author, and consultant. He is the CEO and founder of Wynn Solutions, specializing in how people and organizations can be more influential.

The Big Lie: Customers Want Service

Customers don’t want service! Customers want things that don’t need any service. They want maintenance-free, self-contained solutions, whenever possible.

On average, how do you think most people would rate service after the sale over the course of their lives? Do you really think they are looking for more of that? They want cars that don’t break down, systems that need no tweaking; and they may resent the time required to service their product, preferring instead to spend time making money, forwarding their cause or living life.

We tend to believe our customers want great service because we have solutions that require maintenance. In other words, we put customers in a position to need service. To be motivated, we need to believe that we have exactly what the customer wants. The truth is that the customer wants a permanent solution, and either we don’t want to provide it (for various reasons) or no permanent solution exists. If we have to provide service to customers who are not terribly thrilled about needing it, that service had better be fantastic. It’s like insisting that someone who doesn’t particularly care for hot dogs must eat one. You’d better serve one damn good hot dog or you’re in big trouble.

Mediocre service can be worse than no service in some cases. If we can solve customers’ problems before they know they have any, they will feel much better about their purchase but we will lose the opportunity to generate additional revenue and goodwill through all that. We have to decide which has more value to the customer and to us.

Customer service strategies to consider

Offering training, spare parts or an organized, pre-set service program as part of the purchase price (or as a higher-priced add-on) may give you greater customer satisfaction and allow you to:

  • Offer less service after the sale but give better results to the customer;
  • Get more deeply involved with customers at the point of sale and uncover more opportunities to help them succeed at a faster rate; and
  • Help customers in a way that allows them to learn how to help themselves, proving that your solutions have more long-term value than those of your competitors and are worth the higher price tag.

I realize that this view may not be for everyone; after all, one man’s business-growing is another man’s expensive pain in the butt. But it’s important to find ways to help the customer while at the same time making sure we can stay in business long enough to actually provide that help. Organizations that are not profitable usually give poor service whether the customer wants it or not.

Garrison Wynn is a nationally known keynote speaker, author, and consultant. He is the CEO and founder of Wynn Solutions, specializing in how people and organizations can be more influential.

Motivating Employees: How to deal with motivationally challenged younger workers

Do you find it difficult to motivate younger workers? Have you noticed that employees under 25 will quit their job to go on a ski trip? They will choose pleasure and friends over work every time — actions that indicate that there may be a different work ethic in place. What about people in their 30s? They seem to need more time off and value flexible schedules over money.

Whatever happened to dedicated, committed people who did what was right for the company, the customer and the wallet? Well, for starters, they grew up. Now at least in their 40s, many of them are managing the thirty-something and twenty-something workforce and realizing that these younger people cannot be motivated the same way they were. I don’t know about you, but I start thinking, “You know back in my day (I am now officially old enough to have had a day), we did what we had to do. We ate dirt and we liked it; we walked to work, up hill, both ways, in the snow — we had no shoes. Heck, we had no feet! We walked on our nubs everywhere we went…”

I admit, I’m taking it a bit far here. I never walked to work, I spent most of my life in Florida (no hills, no snow) and I do have both feet, but I think you know where I’m coming from.

How can we effectively motivate people who feel so differently than we do about their job? Wynn Solutions did some research on how some organizations get amazing results from their younger people. These top-performing organizations:

  • Understand that these people grew up in the most affluent time in American history and were raised to expect more out of life. They inherited not only a world of material abundance but also a workplace with perceived unlimited opportunity.
  • Know younger workers measure success not just in dollars but also in equality of pay; that is, they expect to paid as much as anyone who holds the same job.
  • Know workers in their 20s will not respect someone just because that person is older or holds a superior position; they will only respect those who show respect for them.
  • Create goals that work; younger people respond to small goals with tight deadlines and want a quick track for success with praise along the way.
  • Let younger workers know that the skills and training they are getting will help them in the future with other companies, not just with the job they have now. Younger workers believe that companies won’t take care of them for life so they don’t value long-term employment.
  • Know they want stimulating work; they grew up with video games and fast-moving, quickly edited movies. They like to multitask and can become easily bored with processes that move too slowly or have no flexibility.
  • Know that younger workers need to be shown that the boss (not just the company) cares about them. They want to know that their supervisor will give direct praise on a consistent basis for a job well done and will encourage and support them when they are not doing well.
  • Understand what they think about us: They believe our computers crash because we are old and that we have chosen work and money over fun and family, which makes us uptight and cranky as we multitask unsuccessfully.

For those who are thinking these people are just spoiled and should grow up and face reality … each generation would naturally be a bit more spoiled than the previous one as long as the economy continues to grow and parents keep scheduling play dates for their children, telling them they can be anything they want to be and driving them to soccer practice. That’s reality! It’s simply the result of an affluent society.

The good news is that, properly motivated, these young people are brilliant. We talked to many organizations that were implementing some of the strategies outlined above and achieving phenomenal results. The key to long-term organizational growth and change is knowing how to motivate the new talent that can take you into the future. The key does not involve wishing they were more like you. Remember that they are not living in our times; we are living in theirs.

Garrison Wynn is a nationally known speaker, trainer, and consultant. He is the president and founder of Wynn Solutions, specializing in turning talent into performance.