The List that will Change Your Life and Revolutionize Your Business
The Most Important List You May Ever Read
Lists. Despite the fact that sometimes we feel drowned by a downpour of them there is just something about them that positions important information in a way that resonates with most of us.
From the Ten Commandments to ubiquitous blog posts, we have all learned valuable lessons from this uniquely useful means of communicating.
In July, 2012, Inc. Magazine published a list online entitled “10 Habits of Remarkably Charismatic People” that deserves another look. If you internalize these ten suggestions and make them an indispensable facet of your business they will pay huge dividends, both personally and professionally.
Here they are with my modest additions:
- Listen way more than you talk. Listening is a forgotten art. Nothing says more about you than saying nothing at all. If you connect meaningfully with everyone and if you concentrate on what they are trying to tell you, even or especially if you are not expressing your own views, you will win most arguments, solve most problems and gain the most knowledge. Remember that we are not paid by the words we speak. We are paid by the words we truly hear.
- Don’t practice selective hearing. We already know what we have already said. And under most situations, we already know what we are going to say. So what accounts for the fascination we exhibit in our own words? If you care about others at all you will always do two things: You will give priority to others’ thoughts and comments and you will never give the impression that somehow their views are inferior to your own. Listen and hear without filters. If you keep your mouth shut and your mind open you may actually learn something.
- Put your stuff away. When you are supposed to be listening, give your full attention. Nothing is more counter-productive than staring at your monitor, answering your smart phone or reading your email when someone is trying to communicate with you. I have actually met people who have their staff call them during a conversation with others, just so that they seem in constant demand. It may make you feel important for a moment, but it is just plain rude. Most of us can seem disconnected and disinterested if we are not extremely careful. It’s really simple: Focus on others at all times. Look them straight in the eyes if they are meeting with you in person, and never leave a chat session, even for a moment, without a good reason and a sincere apology.
- Give before you receive–even if it means you never receive. Remember, in business you don’t really matter. When the meeting in your office concludes you will still be there, not because you are fascinating but because you have no choice. If you are willing to give your knowledge away, others will want to stay. Not always, but often, fair minded people will want to pay you eventually. It was once popular to believe that the proper course was to lookout for number 1. Fortunately, that concept has gone the way of the Dodo and the Hula-Hoop. The most revered book of lists ever written, the Bible, made the point that you should do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. That is sage advice.
- Don’t act self-important. Guess what? The only people who are impressed by your stuffy, pretentious, self-important self are other stuffy, pretentious, self-important people. You wouldn’t want to do business with them, would you? Of course not. So don’t be one yourself.
- Realize other people are more important. You can’t learn anything from yourself. Think about it. You can only learn from others. If you think others are only important when they pay you for your wisdom, your wisdom will never grow. In fact, in today’s world where business is conducted at the “speed-of-thought” as Bill Gates once famously wrote, learning from others is your only lock on success. Stay focused on yourself and you will end up in the ditch.
- Shine the spotlight on others. How do you prepare for a meeting or a conversation? Do you make lists of your product’s features and benefits? Do you catalog the reasons your customer should buy from you? Do you memorize the competitor’s weaknesses? If so, don’t bother reading the rest of this list because you will be out of business before the ink dries. What has your customer done that is important or valuable? How can you help him? If you can’t answer these basic questions you shouldn’t be in business in the first place. Praise your customers not yourself. Help them first and always.
- Choose your words carefully. There is a world of difference between have to and get to. You don’t have to meet with customers to become successful — you get to meet with customers which is an exciting and fortunate event. Having to do something is — and sounds like — drudgery. Getting to do something is a privilege. Especially in this down economy, it irks me when I hear someone say “I have to go to work now.” With millions of worthwhile and useful individuals completely out of work — with millions of businesses without customers at all because they have lost faith in the future — going to work or talking with customers is an absolute gift. It is a blessing for which you should be grateful. It’s a question of attitude. Get it right and then choose words that convey your gratitude.
- Never discuss the failings of others. This is not a suggestion; it is a commandment. Whatever the circumstances, there is no justification for criticizing others. There is nothing to gain and everything to lose. In today’s world this advice may seem naive: After all, who gets elected to political office, for example, without spending millions on negative advertising? Sad but true. But wouldn’t we all prefer to live in a democracy where good people always ran for office and good people always won? In business, wouldn’t we all prefer a community where value was always respected and the best value always won the sale? I would. In the meantime while we wait and strive for Utopia, make it an article of business faith to accentuate the positive, even in your competitors. Lift up your employees, don’t tear them down. Be respectful of everyone, always.
- Readily admit your failings. You may want to forget your mistakes, but you shouldn’t. Learn from them by admitting them to yourself and to others. As an entrepreneur you will screw up — often and dramatically. Don’t bother trying to hide it. To begin with, you can’t — and furthermore, that’s what makes you human. If you never make a mistake in business, you are not trying hard enough. If your business is flawless, you’re moving too slow. When you botch things up, and you will, share your frailty with others. They will respect you for it.
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