When that meeting or conversation gets off to a rocky start—whether tense words are exchanged or you just don’t seem to be connecting—it’s time to push the reset button. Andrew Sobel, author of Power Questions, reveals the phrase that can turn it all around.
What do you do next? According to Andrew Sobel you have three options:
This question is only one of the many the authors include in their book, Power Questions. They explore dozens of questions that light fires under people, challenge their assumptions, help them see problems in productive new ways, and inspire them to bare their souls (which, of course, strengthens the bonds in the relationship). And they wrap up the book with an exhaustive list of additional questions—bringing the grand total to 337 power questions to help readers succeed at work and in life.
Back to “starting over”: Sobel’s coauthor recalls the time he walked into the office of a wealthy benefactor named Allan to ask for a million-dollar donation to his alma mater’s College of Engineering. Though he knew better, Panas failed to gain rapport and explore Allan’s true interests before jumping in with the big request. When he was severely rebuked for his presumptuousness, Panas realized he had made a serious error and dug himself into a deep hole. He got up and excused himself, left the room, and 10 seconds later knocked on the door and asked the power question, Do you mind if we start over?
Allan smiled and invited Panas to sit down. Start over they did, and after approaching the revived conversation the right way, Panas discovered that Allan was interested in making a major gift—but to the University’s theater program, not its engineering program!
Try it yourself. The next time a conversation gets off on the wrong foot or veers off track, reset with this powerful question. Sobel offers the following pointers:
“More than words alone, a genuine smile that reaches the eyes can evoke a powerful visceral response,” says Sobel. “It shows that your intentions are pure, and when people realize that, the vast majority are willing to give you another chance.”
“It’s a bold, gutsy move to restart a conversation from scratch,” says Sobel. “Yes, it feels awkward. Most of us are not accustomed to swallowing our pride, admitting in real time that we screwed up, and asking if we can make it right. But the next time a conversation goes wrong, try it. Not only will it salvage the moment, it will pave the way for a more authentic and productive relationship in the future.”
About the Authors:
For 30 years, Andrew has worked as both a consultant to senior management and as an executive educator and coach. His clients have included leading corporations such as Citigroup, Xerox, and Cognizant; as well as professional service firms such as Ernst & Young, Booz Allen Hamilton, Towers Watson, and many others. His articles and work have been featured in a variety of publications such as the New York Times, Business Week, and the Harvard Business Review. Andrew is a graduate of Middlebury College and earned his MBA at Dartmouth’s Tuck School.
Andrew is an acclaimed keynote speaker who delivers idea-rich, high-energy speeches and seminars at major conferences and events. His topics include Developing Clients for Life; Creating a Rainmaking Organization; Collaborating to Grow Revenue; The Beatles Principles; and Power Questions That Win New Business. He can be reached at http://andrewsobel.com.
Jerry Panas is executive partner of Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners, one of the world’s most highly regarded firms in the field of fundraising services and financial resource development. His firm has served over 2,500 client-institutions since its founding in 1968. Jerry’s clients comprise many of the foremost not-for-profit institutions in the world. They include every major university, museum, and healthcare center in the United States. Internationally, Jerry has advised organizations as diverse as the University of Oxford, The American Hospital in Paris, and Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos in Mexico, the largest orphanage in the world.
Jerry is the author of 13 popular books, including Power Questions and the all-time bestsellers Asking and Mega Gifts. He is founder and chairman of the board of the Institute for Charitable Giving, one of the most significant providers of training in philanthropy.
Because of the prominence of the firm and the impact of Jerry’s writing, few have had a greater influence in the history of the profession. He is a favorite speaker at conferences and workshops across the nation and internationally. He can be reached at http://panaslinzy.com.
About the Book: