Three simple words. These three simple words are incredibly powerful.
The tone in which you say them means a lot as well. When we take on consulting engagements, there is usually a substantial initial press to data dump a ton of information into our consultant’s heads so that we can quickly get up to speed on the way our client wants to work.
They all have their particular terminology, their own culture, and at first, a typical human thrust into this situation can feel lost. Everyone wants you to hit the ground running, move fast, and break things, but the reality is that all we are trying to do is to jump on your bullet train. We can run, we can cycle, we can drive, but unless we can match your speed, we can never get on.
Its pure physics – either we need to speed up to your velocity, or you need to slow down and help us up.
Either way, unless you match speeds, no one will ever get on board.
When we start a gig, that’s our first order of the day; we accelerate as fast as possible to try to match your speed. Sometimes we get to it quickly, sometimes its harder, mostly depending on the pace of change in your specific industry.
Sometimes we’ll overshoot, and need to slow down to match you. Like when you are flying over the ground at 300 miles an hour, it feels like you are not moving at all, but others are trying to catch up. I’ve found that in addition to speeding up to reach your customer – you sometimes have to ask them to slow down a sec, just for a moment, and help you on the train.
Just say those three little words.
The beauty of humanity is that most humans will completely understand and slow down to help you. Not only does it help others to get an understanding of why you might not be speeding along as quickly as everyone else, its a signal for some assistance.
Like the famous negotiator, Chris Voss likes to say to a bad guy holding hostages and asking for a ransom, “How would I do that?”
Put some of the onus on the client to help you into the role. Do this, and you have begun to be part of the team.
Why does this work so well? Our corporate world is so full of egos just stepping all over each other to talk about how awesome they are, what long hours they work, how late they got to bed, and how early they wake-up. How they devote their entire lives to their jobs and have no time for family because they are fantastic super people. In reality, they aren’t.
Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg all do the same things all of us other humans do.
We are all human, underneath all of that image. When you show some of that humanity, you touch the humanity in others. That’s another reason why you should keep your mask to a minimum and attempt to be as authentic as possible.
Just be human, not superhuman, and maybe other humans will return the favor.