Stressed Connections


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Stressful environments require a higher degree of leadership and skill to navigate.

We recently passed the first anniversary of what seems to be a never-ending pandemic. Concurrently, we experienced political campaigns that may have reached an all-time low in civility and respect. Cities around the country were the scene of unrest over civil rights, anarchy, and several other causes.

Hoping for a better start to 2021, we got the debacle at our nation’s Capitol in January, some kabuki theatre referred to as impeachment in February, and the rollout of vaccines that continues to please no one.

Is it surprising that as a nation, we are stressed? That stress is apparent in your customers, their teams, your colleagues – and it is apparent in you.

Skills you will need

During this time of great stress, you are likely to see a lot of negative attitudes. Additionally, the stress will heighten the emotion already present in those negative attitudes. These situations require a higher degree of leadership and the skills that mark the most effective leaders. So, let’s review a couple of those skills.

Confidence attracts followers, and your customers are looking for that confidence more than ever. So although every call is likely to start negatively, you must maintain your confidence throughout the day. If nothing else, it comes down to the fact that you have been through worse, survived, and emerged stronger for that experience. Starting confidently, maintaining that confidence throughout the call, and finishing with confidence is a prerequisite for success.

Next, when dealing with negative attitudes, you must stay focused on your goal and realize that people with negative attitudes are not necessarily rejecting you or your goals. That negativity is mostly directed at the plan or strategy for achieving that goal. Said another way, people are rejecting it, the plan/strategy, and not you. Seeing negativity this way will allow you to maintain your confidence and acknowledge their negative point of view.

Switching pronouns from “you” to “it” may seem like a small thing now, but in a stressful situation, this simple act is extremely powerful in helping your customers to separate themselves from the problem at hand.

Once you and your customer are focused on “it” (the problem), you and they become a team trying to solve it, and that could require more probing to really understand the problem. NIQCL (need, importance, quantifying, consequences, and look/listen) offers a simple template to drill down on the real issues standing in the way of success.

The transition from the stress and negativity of the pandemic is accomplished by aligning to your customers’ attitude initially. Then, asking the customer to align with you at a higher, more motivated attitude ends when the customer joins you at that confident, well-informed yes or no.

Remember, just as you do in your personal life, sometimes the right response is no. Don’t let that impact your attitude. You did your job. You got a well-informed, confident decision – move on confidently.

About the author

Patrick T. Malone is a business advisor and leadership mentor based in Blairsville, Georgia. He is the co-author of the best-selling business book “Cracking the Code to Leadership” and may be reached at [email protected] or 706-835-1308.

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