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Jenn's main blog

It takes two to have a deal making conversation

Jenn Shallvey

 

Ok, I need to share with you a conversationI observed the other day.  I alsodisclaim up front that my judgement metre was on high alert.

I was at a restaurant waiting to meetsomeone for dinner.  A meeting wascancelled at the last minute so I had extra time to enjoy a glass (or two) ofwine in the outdoor area next to Sydney harbour.

 

 

 

 

As I sat there a group of four businessmen arrivedand sat at a table two over from me. This seemed to be a serious meetingbetween four people. They all sat down to drinks.  It was so serious that they all kept theirjackets on.  I presumed a businessdevelopment meeting.

I was going to ignore them and enjoy somewriting up of notes from my day when I started to hear them talking. I couldnot help but listen, especially to the large bellowing voice of the man in thecentre of the conversation, the “Visitor”. The Visitor spoke so loud that I am sure you could hear him across Sydney Harbour to Luna Park. 

 

 

 

 

I presumed that the loud man was thevisitor in town. He had a thick American accent compared to the other threeAustralian accents.  (Pause for adisclaimer. As a person born in Australia ,raised in the USA and nowsettled back in Australia for 17 ½ years I feel qualified to observe differences culturally between thesetwo countries.)

Not only was the Visitor loud he was alsobig.  Big in physical size. Big inpresence.  Big in posture andgestures.  This man sat in his chair andspread out so much with his body, legs and arms that he had a spare chair nextto him.  His presence was larger thanlife.  I describe this to you so you getthe impression that his physicality dominated as much as he did in themeeting.  This affected (from what I couldobserve) the way he held himself and moved in the meeting.

 

 

As I have noted elsewhere in my posts Ilike to observe behaviour.  This parthobby, part work pastime satisfies the psychologist / sociologist /anthropologist in me and ultimately helps me to understand the way peopleinteract in natural situations.

 

 

So I decided to pay attention and takenotes.

 

 

 

 

What I noticed disappointed me.  From the amount of time I could hear the loudvoice I could determine that almost 90% of the conversation was dominated bythe Visitor.  He spoke mostly, shared hisview of the world, his opinion, his knowledge. It was like three disciplessitting with a visiting guru. This guy was in the category of overdoing thestereotype of the loud, obnoxious American (remember my disclaimer above). So Icringed further almost ready to stand up and offer a crash course in Australiancross cultural interaction.

I also noticed that the three locals wereasking the visitor question after question as if he had all the answers.

 

 

I didn’t pay much attention to the detailof the conversation but more to the body language, tone, loudness and flow.

 

 

However my ears perked up when the Visitorraised his voice louder (was this possible?) and sat back in his chair with hisarms out wider.  He started to claim thathe made a very large company (a household name) in the world successful.  He went on and on with information about thesize of the company, 400,000 employees, versus the size of the company thethree men were referring to, 100 employees. He made claim after claim that itwas due to his role that the company was so successful.  How could this one man be THE difference in acompany of 400,000 employees?

 

 

So my analytical brain kicked in.  I wondered if this was a sale. Was he thesales guy?  Was this really how peoplebuy services?  What about the peoplesitting there listening?  What happenedto the relationship building, the respect for the others in the meeting?

 

 

So here I was judging.  Why was I so sensitive to this type ofperson. Why did his overconfident, almost arrogant sense of self importancecrawl under my skin?

 

 

I imagined first that there was somethingin his manner that I saw in myself occasionally (don’t we all have this shadowpart to us).  Then I also noted that inthe past my behaviour would be the result of three choices.

 

 

One I could choose to be physicallyaggressive back to the person, stand my ground, prove my point. Defend myselfby going on the offensive. Observing the others I wanted them to stand up tothis guy.

 

 

Other times I could choose to recoil, holdback, pretend nothing affected me, play the passive person, roll over and hopeit would all go away.  Much of thereaction on the others part seemed to be in this camp.

 

 

Then there is the third response. I callthis the non-ego response. Come from a place of acceptance and yes love. Thatis friendly platonic respectful love, agape as Romans called it.

 

 

So as I sat observing this conversation Iconsciously chose to see the situation with compassionate acceptance andunderstanding of the visitor and the meeting. As I did this I noticed what happened in me.

 

 

Well firstly I realised that the man isactually passionate about what he does. He is equally passionate about his technical work and the value heperceives he adds. This passion is comparable to the passion I hold forpersonal growth and development.  He isdifferent than me on one level and then the same on another.

 

 

On the outside I also saw a man trying toprove himself in a business meeting. He is trying to follow through literallyon the reputation that precedes him.  Iimagine he had built up a presence in the business market he worked in.  He needed to live up to this.

 

 

What I also observed was his dining companionswere not the best match for him.  It wasnot until the person I will call the “deal maker” showed up. I could just tellfrom his presence, posture, dress and mannerisms that he could match thisperson with respect.

 

 

The other dining companions stayed mouselike,awkward and quiet while the two hit it off. By the time I left for the show I was seeing with my friend these twowere the only ones left at the table. They were enjoying a real heart to heartconversation. Lower voice, exchanges both ways, eye contact, jackets off andrelaxed body postures.  I stoppedlistening to them when my friend arrived but did notice these changes.

 

 

So what was the difference?

 

 

I believe that the “deal maker” came fromthe place of acceptance and respect needed to match this person. He did notfeel lessor or better than the Visitor. The Deal Maker focused probably on getting to know the person and thedeal at hand.  They were real.

 

 

At an even deeper level I believe that theDeal Maker had self confidence and belief in him self being at thatmeeting.  His approach and communicationstyle would have signalled to the Visitor that he was genuinely interestedbusiness person to business person, human being to human being.

 

 

 

 

So when you are next in a business meetingand need to do a deal or sell notice what happens. Pay attention to whether yougo in tough, play it easy or act with respect and confidence.  And if you notice a colleague havingdifficulty help them out.Ultimately be real and remember the personon the other side of the table is probably more like you on the inside than youthink.

 

 

Let’s go there…

 

Jenn