How to instantly get better insights

earthPay-off: better quality insights, immediately
Investment: 5 mins (2 mins if you’d learned to speed read)

Improve your quality of thinking

This post applies to anyone, but I’ve specifically angled it towards people in sales conversations or conversations where you need to persuade someone to do something beneficial. Like kids, partners, parents, friends and colleagues. You know, those daily challenging and frustrating conversations that you wish were easier.

Mostly, it’s for anyone prepared to think differently…

You create most of your problems

Do you ever stop to consider how your habitual thinking carves out the path ahead for you, which exposes you to both the rewarding and more challenging moments (those moments that drive you utterly insane) that make up your life?

As Edward De Bono once said:

“The quality of our life in the future will be determined by the quality of our thinking.”

And the quality of our thinking can improve by applying various ‘thinking tools’ (Edward De Bono has them coming out of his ears) and also by continuously learning from other fields, industries, and by reading things that challenge your thinking, (the reading material you generally don’t want to read).

Most people seem to read what they agree with because it’s easy and feels good.

So don’t discharge your responsibility to keep thinking

I read years back, “if two people agree with each other in business, then one of them is redundant” and in the situation of seeking out reading material that you agree with, I wonder who is more redundant, the reader or the book?

Since you have the ability to think, and think better, to fail to do so would surely be a great waste and the most direct cause of the majority of mishaps that come your way?

To keep on your toes, I strongly suggest reading material from other fields and topics of disinterest and then asking yourself how this information could help people in your field. My post on “How to Get 10 Times More Out of What You Learn” has been popular so you might like to take a look. But come back here, as this next tip should be useful.q

New mind software

Now, if you’re on top of the world most of the time then you probably have a habit of crisp high-quality useful thinking.

But if you’re a real human, then perhaps you should consider trialling some new ‘mind software’ that can increase the quality of your thinking, and consequently the rewards that follow.

Here’s one way to do so which I have used and benefitted from for years:

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

Since your thinking gets squeezed through the same standard filters (your thinking style, biases, opinions, emotions, reference points, ego, beliefs, real fears that you pretend don’t exist, stubbornness etc) you’re going to be hard pushed to come up with any outputs too far from the norm. You’ll continue to hit everything with the same hammer.

Which means there’s a fair chance you can expect your rewards and challenges to continue as they are. Business and life as usual. Problems, excuses and avoidance tactics as usual. Some of your outcomes will snowball of course – time plus habitual incremental actions tends to have a compound effect.

Put the hammer down and re-route

So we need to re-route your thinking to avoid your biases, opinions, beliefs, emotions and other limitations.

And my suggestion at this point is to send it via deep space…

Take any situation you’re in or have been it that you’d like some insights on. It might be a tough conversation with someone, a sales conversation, or it could be a time when you sat there simply feeling sorry for yourself.

Now, re-route your thinking. Imagine an astronaut on the moon looking down at you and observing what’s actually going on and what’s been going on with both yourself and others around you. The astronaut is smirking a bit because they know the truth. You think you know, but they actually do know.

The astronaut’s perspective of how you sell and persuade

Probably best at this stage that I continue to explain this approach by example. I’ve chosen five common thoughts that good honest respectable people have that could seriously limit their progress particularly in sales or conversations where they try to persuade others.

How do I know these five thoughts are common? Because I’ve coached hundreds of people who have told me that they think these things, and frankly, my life’s work would be complete if I could stop them thinking these things.

For each thought, I’ll suggest what you could be thinking followed by what the astronaut might think.

Remember these are thoughts – they’re not said out loud! (Although I have heard them all said out loud). But they do limit and steer your behaviour that follows.

Here they are:

You: How will I gain in this opportunity?

(Consider how this makes you react and come across).

Astronaut: What does each of these people appear to want from this, and what don’t they want? How well are they collaborating to understand each other and both maximise the win for each other, rather than fighting to be understood themselves? Is the relationship (specifically the trust and respect) following this conversation strengthening or weakening? Is their language self-serving or collaborative?

You: I’m smart, I know what they need, they just can’t see it.

(Consider how this makes you react and come across).

Astronaut: this person is trying to be understood before they have fully understood their customer. Their customer looks frustrated. The sales person looks overconfident about their solution. This is agonizing to watch!

You: I don’t have time to do that

(Consider how this makes you react and come across).

Astronaut: You look certain about something that’s nonsense. I’ve seen how you use your time. You’re just uncomfortable doing this and saying to yourself that you don’t have time makes you feel better about it. And from here, I can see that it’s costing you.

You: No one is buying right now and our product is no better than our competitor’s

(Consider how this makes you react and come across).

Astronaut: People are buying from your competition and some of your colleagues – I can see them right now. These buyers see the value that you don’t because you haven’t understood them, their career, and their business well enough. You’ve just attached your own perception of value to your product.

You: If I maintain the relationship with them, they’ll eventually buy from me.

(Consider how this makes you react and come across).

Astronaut: Your customer thinks you’re a good person, and they love your cheeriness and the coffees and lunches you’re buying them. But they’ve got to get back to the office in a bit because your competitor has just brought something high value and urgent to their attention and provided them with some options to consider.

The cost of not doing this

Well, there’s just five examples, but multiplied by each person in your team, I wonder what they’re costing your business? And of course, there’s more than just five…

And don’t forget, you can think like this before an important conversation, to visualise how it could and should play out. And you can think like this following a conversation to reflect.

You can even, with practice, switch it on during a conversation to gain an unemotional subjective perspective. This is particularly useful when having uncomfortable conversations.

Finally, whilst you’re unlikely to arrive at ‘the full truth’ when you think like this, you can increase the chances that you’ll gain more insights if you take the astronauts perspective.

The astronaut just observes. They don’t judge you. But they see what’s going on in other people’s lives and are better able to see the full picture.

My suggestion is to sit back and consider the astronaut’s perspective every so often, and enjoy the alternative options it creates.

Best of luck with it, and let me know if you have any questions (contact tab on the right).

Mark

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