Making other people happy through service is the key to success in any business.

Three phrases you should bend over backwards to NEVER hear or say:

  1. “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” You’re talking to a conformist who you haven’t brought along in exploring new. Avoid this phrase by teeing up the change you want to see with informed discussions among the people you’re serving. MOVE these people along at a rate appropriate for those people. Do NOT present a new way to a legacy-prone organization with “We’ve redesigned the process to streamline decision-making….” A) you may not make it out of the room alive and b) you may not know how all of the decision makers are engaged. EASE your way into change with open-ended questions and a helpful, collaborative attitude that enrolls people in the solution.
  2. “How we doin’?” Ugh. These words, in this order, said in a deceptively cheerful tone by the one you serve, are usually the kiss of death. The asker KNOWS things suck, and is trying to give you an out and let you save face. Avoid this by: a) Understanding what is measured before you start; b) Keeping people up-to-date on your progress and any issues you’re encountering, and c) if the project is off-schedule taking a solution TO the person you serve – don’t let them lead you to this uncomfortable spiral of hell.
  3. “How did we get here?” You’ve presented your results and the silence sets in…and then the dreaded “how the hell did this happen” dressed up as “how did we get here. Richard Moran’s equivalent in his “Presentation Poison” is “Can we do a process check?” Which is code for “no one knows what the hell we are talking about any more.” 

Get ahead of these kisses of death by staying ahead of the one you serve. Manage Up at all times. Keep them informed, find solutions, deliver clear, concise messages. Don’t sugarcoat it. The people who don’t blindside their customers or their bosses are the ones who will succeed the most.

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