The Ops manager reached out to me and said she was concerned about something this big and had a number of questions regarding the particulars of the deal for the sales executive and was wondering how to respond? The deal was complex and would involve making some fairly complex operational changes to accommodate the customer’s request but still, it was likely very doable with enough time and thought. Clearly she was concerned and anxious because she knew the operational changes would all fall on her and her team to execute and ultimately to make this happen.
I said I thought her concerns were entirely legitimate and said she should just reach out to the sales exec to discuss. She was relieved to see I supported her concerns. Right before we were about to wrap up our conversation, I asked her, “So when you respond what’s the first thing you should say?”
She stopped, thought and said, “Well, I should probably thank him for reaching out to me before the deal was finalized and then let him know I had some concerns before we closed the deal.”
I said, “Thanking him for connecting sounds good, but what else?”
She was silent for a while, thinking. Finally, she said she was stumped.
I said, “The sales executive just told you he is close to closing a deal that will greatly add to the company’s growth and value. The same company where you are an executive and thus are directly impacted by the company’s success and you don’t know what to say?”
Now she was really concerned. What was she missing?
I let her think for a bit then I said, “How about WOW! That’s amazing! What an incredible opportunity for us! I have some questions but looking forward to connecting with you, so we can figure out how to get this done together.”
So much of the time we are caught up in our own story that we don’t see what is ultimately ordinary in another context. Oddly enough I see parents do this all the time with their children. Their son or daughter comes to them with a story of success at school or in a sporting or performance event and the parent, instead of sharing the child’s joy in their success, wants to quickly jump to the life lesson or to place the event in the context of the parent’s story for their child. They forget to just recognize something good has just happened for their child and the reason they are even mentioning it to the parent is to celebrate.
It's so simple — Set your story aside for a bit and see the world through your teammates’ eyes. Celebrate a victory. Better yet…celebrate a victory together, forge a relationship and build a team to take on the next challenge.