This looks at how a small business owner eager for business in an economic recession decides to select a client and do the contract negotiations so he protects and takes good care of himself.
I have a number of coaching clients who have little experience in knowing how to select a client or engagement for their businesses. One particular client of mine who is a fairly new consultant described a man who was extremely opinionated about how he wanted to run an event. One of the top managers in the company seemed to be in opposition to the potential client about some of the systems and spoke about how certain IRS regulations were not being followed. The potential client was looking for an event planner for a wonderful event for women with breast cancer. The more my client spoke with him about the possibility of a contract, the more he appeared to need a good consultant to make changes from his vision, a consultant to work with the development director and/or public relations officer, or new managers to run the fund raising and public relations aspects of the business. The question for my client was if her potential client would let go of enough control to make the project worth her while. Or would this man be too difficult? Would she be able to have an influence on the legalities? Often in looking at a possible client one has to look at their ethics and values and whether or not they are a good fit for you.
Make a good needs assessment of the client’s organization. In this case example we looked at what the client said he wanted; we discussed the aspects of a needs assessment and what the other manager was saying verses the potential client. My client looked at her calendar to see how much time she had vs. what was being asked for and what she assessed she would need. She also explored her costs and how they could be put into the contract. I think it is very important to do a thorough needs assessment when deciding on a potential contract. The best way to do this is to have meetings and individual interviews with several levels of management in the organization. It might even take several rounds of meetings. Then you can look at your costs, your time, the value to the client, and how you want to make your presentation and recommendations. You might be investing a lot of your time just determining if you want this client or this engagement.
My business client decided to have another meeting with the organization to follow up on the needs assessment. She came back with additional questions about the company which led her to assess her own responsibilities, liabilities and normal business questions for her operation. Additionally she needed to explore the personalities with whom she and her staff would be working, the cost analysis , various contractual issues, and her schedule. It seemed that after a week of studying these issues, my client determined the biggest concern for her was the possible personality conflict that could arise and how to handle it. Often my clients run into this issue - it is quite common at all management levels. You want to determine, if you can, how it might affect the outcome of the engagement. The other large concern was the ethical or legal issues. This, she determined in the needs assessment, would be acceptable because the concerns were not founded. Sometimes a needs assessment will give you this. If it is a small company you may not be able to have confidence in the answers you are getting. Do your due diligence.
What else do you need to do while doing the needs assessment? Look at yourself and your company. Make sure you have looked at the things above - values, ethics, legalities, personality ease or difficulties, cost analysis, schedule, etc. Proceed cautiously. Be sure to check with your own staff, advisers, or coach and your inner knowing. Be sure to take good care of yourself in taking on an engagement. Determine how much you want this client, this engagement or scope of work, your level of competence in delivering the needs of the organization, how this will help you, and how it will effect your psychological well being as well as your bank balance. There is more than a financial bottom line. Because the economic environment is difficult for many small businesses today, look at how this one client would fit into your schedule for several months and how this contract could lead to a larger percentage of your business.
How do you think you handle yourself in client selection and contract negotiations?
This posting is a review of four relationship tips I’ve talked about this week: be kind to your partner, put your “Poor Me” stories in the closet and be positive, give compliments, and have fun and date regularly throughout life. To complete this series, at the suggestion of my friend Beverly Lane, I’ve shared how to apply all these tips to your life if you do not have a spouse or relationship partner.
This week we have talked about several important things to do to get your relationship on a successful and happy track. Be kind - a simple concept that can be difficult if you are feeling hurt or are fighting. Put your, “I’ve been wronged” stories in the closet. (Not permanently.) For now, try to think more positively and stop talking about the past hurts and errors. Focus on the positive in the relationship. Think about the wonderful things about your partner. While you are thinking about the positives, you can’t be thinking about the negative. Control your mind. Stop the critical parent that lives inside you. Focus on the good things about your partner and the relationship. Say these things aloud. Give your partner 3 compliments a day. Work up to 10. Become a master of 10 compliments a day. When it is common place and natural, you are living in bliss. Have fun together and go on a date weekly for the rest of your lives. Build up the positive experiences you have together and devote time to the relationship – just the two of you.
Have these mind sets, take these actions, and you’ll be headed in the right direction for a successful and happy relationship.
Now, let’s put a big twist on this series of relationship tips. My wise and delightful 83 year old friend Beverly Lane commented that single people not in a relationship can use these same ideas to make their lives better. So let’s look at how Bev and I thought you might do it.
Be Kind. A pretty easy translation: instead of applying it to your partner, just do it with everyone. Bev thought about her neighbors, the wonderful and caring hospice workers who make her life better, the people she connects with in the market, the bank teller, the people from the church who recently cleaned up her yard, her friends of many years, her siblings, her niece and nephew, and all the rest of the relationships throughout her lifetime. We even applied this to her thinking about her female friends in Manhattan during the 50’s when they were young professional women no one could beat for their fun and mischief!
Put your “Oh, Poor Me” stories in the closet and be positive. This is a great one! I think of all the stories I share with my girlfriends and how they’d like to hear fewer of them. I think I’ll limit them to 3 minutes or less. Then I will simply eliminate them from the conversation. I might need a few weeks to practice this one. Bev suggested I keep the humorous ones in my conversation. I think of all her stories about the Manhattan Gals and although there were many challenges, I never hear the negative in her reminiscing. In her well-lived 83 years, she just thinks positively. You never hear her complain. Even with death playing with her daily, she doesn’t see the glass half empty. In fact, Bev experiences life completely full. She won’t settle for half full. She talks about the birds and feeds them – for decades. She talks sweetly about the raccoons her neighbors bitterly complain about. She feeds them and gives them a home, accepting their damage as a normal consequence of life. She delights in her cats, never complaining about their problems or hair ball messes. Bev would never consider them messes! Instead, she reads about dna and occupies her mind with the wonder of the female heritage.
Be complimentary. Again, a simple translation for the single person. Give compliments to everyone throughout your day. Instead of focusing on your spouse or primary significant other, make the people in your sphere all your significant others and say complimentary things to them. I had lunch with my friend Delilah yesterday and her complimentary manner was extremely respectful to our waitress. I was most impressed with her ease and naturalness exhibiting gracious appreciation. She is like that. In addition, she teaches mangers and front line employees alike to respect the inner beauty of each individual’s character. Everyone who comes into Delilah’s purview feels full after an encounter, no matter how brief. Bev is quite similar in the ways she thanks people for their gifts to her, recognizing all with appreciation and love. My stepson Paul is naturally that way too. He is a role model for all of us in expressing recognition of the other person. He also is a master at expressing gratitude. His parents taught him very early to make this a normal part of relationship with others. And he has always been one of the happiest people I know. So, I don’t suggest 3 compliments a day. Emulate these 3 beautiful people in my life and make it a central aspect of your relating with all others in your life.
Have Fun and Date weekly for the rest of your life. For the individual who does not have a primary relationship, simply have fun and date all the people in your life. The closer they are, the more opportunities you can create for doing enjoyable activities on a regular basis. Tonight I am meeting a group of girlfriends for dinner. One I have known for 28 years, two for 22, and some for 3 to 10. We “date” each other – go to dinner, celebrate birthdays, graduations, promotions, etc. We visit each other in the hospital, take food to each other, literally take care of each other, manage personal affairs for each other when needed, and attend funerals. We know each others’ family members and have supported and loved each other through life’s challenges. Births, deaths, divorces, children’s life paths, parents’ transitions…We pack and move each other. Have garage sales. Dress up and attend charity events, see super stars on the Las Vegas Strip, attend church, holiday together, and welcome in many new years. We dance, we travel, we shop in many cities, learn what each other is learning about, work out sometimes together, try different sports and games, but we have not jumped out of a plane – any of us. We generously give time, creativity, fun, furniture and anything that is needed. We certainly don’t feel married to each other, and several have spouses, and new people enter the “group”, and others move away and later return. We are growing older and wiser together and always enjoy the new and developing aspects of each other. Sometimes there are two of us – any two – and sometimes 10. We have “girlfriend love stories” to fill a bookstore. We are the Las Vegas Gals and a lot like Bev’s Manhattan Gals.
If you don’t have a community of people in your life, start developing one. In the meantime, have fun and date all the friends, co-workers, and acquaintances you are interested in or curious about. Get busy connecting your unique personality with the same and different qualities of those people in your life. And create beautiful friendships.
Busy executives need to devote personal time to their marriage or primary relationship. Set aside one day each week to have fun together doing interesting activities which build up your savings account of pleasure and engagement. It is important to keep your couple relationship separate from the family relationship. Date once a week for life.
When you have started to make your primary relationship more loving, you will be demonstrating kindness, not talking about what is wrong, focusing on the positive things in your relationship, and being complimentary with each other. The other assignment I ask couples new to coaching and therapy to do is to date.
Have fun together. Date once a week. We have to build up your savings account of fun, pleasure, and having a good time together. Over the years and through difficult times, you may have really depleted the savings account. You build it up by spending time each week having fun together.
Do things you have never done before. Or do things you used to like doing together. Take risks and try things. Be curious and look into things that are available. Do everything that is available in your town.
The overall idea is to have fun together. Jump out of a plane! Take a tennis lesson. Golf. Go bowling. Play Scrabble or other board games. Have a picnic. Take a hike in nature. The least important activities are going to the movies and going out for dinner. These count, but they are too typical. Go have fun. Go to the speedway and drive cars. Attend an event. Listen to a motivational speaker. Go to the symphony. Roast marshmallows in the back yard. Find a constellation. Go mushroom hunting. Cook a special meal together. Learn to tango together. Got the idea?
Plan one date a week and alternate who plans it. That way, both of you are initiating and trying to think of fun things to do together. You each have an opportunity to decide what might be fun and what you want to try. It is okay to get your assistant’s help, but make the decisions yourself. Some couples like to select one day each week for their date. It simplifies baby sitters, agendas, scheduled meetings, as well as other things. Don’t ignore this assignment. The busier you are with your career or business, the more you need to do this assignment.You ought to pay attention to your relationship one day a week for the rest of your lives…
When you’re thinking positively and you’re working to keep your inner critical parent quiet, you’re ready to begin complimenting your spouse or relationship partner on a regular basis. Give 3 compliments to your partner every day.
When couples start in coaching or therapy with me I always give them the same assignments: be kind, put your stories in the closet and think/act positive, and be complimentary. We have you thinking positively now. So your next step is to say these things aloud. I want you to think about the good things about your partner. Their good qualities. Their kind and loving behaviors, the cute and charming things about their personality. Then, tell them how wonderful they are!
Give your partner 3 compliments a day. Some couples can only start with one. But push yourself to do 3. This is what you want to put your energy into so that this becomes a normal and easy part of your day. You should be able to do 10 without thinking! When you do that, you are probably safe from divorce court.
You might need to look at the days’ activities as a way to notice your partner’s behaviors worth complimenting. Normal things like, “Thank you for making coffee for me this morning.” Or perhaps, “It was very nice of you to volunteer to pick up the kids today.” Or, “The way you handled the situation with the phone company was terrific. I appreciated that I didn’t have to do it and you did it with so much assertiveness. You straightened out the situation quickly and I felt a lot of respect for how you did it.”
In addition to the daily activity, look at the character traits, personality, interests, and actions that demonstrate values, social awareness, intelligence, talents, gifts, and unique qualities that make the person who they genuinely are. There is no limit to the positives you can see about this person if you open your mind and focus on the positives. You will feel more loving and more loved.
All you have to do is be complimentary. Think and say these beautiful things to your partner. You’ll be surprised how the love will flow between you if you make this a lifelong process…
When you are not having success in getting resolution to your problems, please put your stories in the closet until you learm some relationship strategies and communications skills. Begin to focus on the positives in your relationship, not the negatives.
In working with couples new in coaching or therapy, I ask them in the first week to be kind and to not talk about what is wrong. They have already proven they cannot talk about it and get resolution, or they wouldn’t be asking for help. So when you are not having success in getting resolution to your problems, please put your stories in the closet. I am not suggesting this for always. Just for the time being until you learn some relationship strategies and communications skills. When you know the skills, you can bring the stuff out of the closet and clean it up.
The more you think about what the other has done wrong, the more you are moving toward divorce court. Research tells us that couples who have more positive interactions stay together longer and are happier. If you don’t have positive interactions throughout your communications, you don’t have enough glue to stay together.
Focus on the positive. This is the second assignment I give to new couples in therapy. If you are thinking about the positive, saying it and acting on it, you will start to see more of it. You will be more aware. When you are feeling the positive regard transactions, you will feel loved. This means you must stop thinking about the things wrong. You must stop the internal dialogue of what is wrong. You need to stop the critical thinking. You have to stop saying the negatives. Put them in the closet and leave them there.
As much as you have to stop thinking, saying and feeling the negative, you must think, say and feel the positive. Start remembering all the good things about your partner. What are their superior qualities that set them apart, that made you want to be together? What are the cute, charming things the other does? What are some of the more important things you have shared together? What have you learned from each other? How have you helped each other? What are the deeper gifts you have given to each other? By being together, what have you gained?
This exercise is about you controlling your own mind. Don’t let your mind go to the negative thoughts. Push your mind to think about the positive qualities and behaviors of the other. When you find your mind on the negative, Stop! It is as simple as getting out of one chair and sitting in another. Get up and move! Do that with your mind. Get out of the negative chair and go sit in the positive chair. You decide if you want to be in heaven or hell. Get up and move. Change the focus. No one else can determine where you allow your mind to hang out. You are the only one who can decide to think about something nice, and that makes you feel good.
There are a number of things you can do to get your relationship on the right track, or make an adjustment to improve the intimacy in your relationship. The first thing to do is think and act in a kind manner.
There are a number of things you can do to get your relationship on the right track, or make an adjustment to improve the intimacy in your relationship. Every time I get a new couple in therapy I give them the same assignments. This week I will go through each of those assignments here. The couples’ stories are always different, but the underlying issues about commitment, intimacy and passion are usually similar.
To get to those issues we start with the couple sharing the stories of their hurt and anger. If you want, you could write yours. It will help get it out of your mind. It’s on the paper for now. If you are going to see a Marriage and Family Therapist, take the paper with you. Otherwise, just put it away.
When a couple is in trouble, they are usually focused on what is wrong with the other person. Of course, it helps for you to focus on what is wrong with you – because that is all you can change. However, that is not my topic today. But it is related. I want you to focus on being kind.
Be kind! That is the first assignment. It is so simple, but not always easy to do. You have to set aside your hurt and anger. More about that tomorrow. So, no focus on you being wronged. No focus on you being right. No focus on the other person being “bad.” No focus on the other’s mistakes or issues. Focus on you thinking and acting in a kind way.
Think about what the other has done that has been wonderful. Think about their generosity. The ways they have helped you. The thoughtful things they have done for you. Think about how loving the beginning of the relationship was. Think about the first things you told your best friend about him or her.
Clean up your own behavior! Be nice. Say something kind. Stop the snide, hurtful remarks. Stop the fighting. Stop the cold war. Don’t disagree. Be quiet! Stop, think something nice and say or do something kind. This is the person you claim to love. Well, act on that! You won’t get what you want by being nasty. You might get what you want by being kind.
Most of us want to be loved. You get love by being kind to others. Try it now. This week be kind and only kind.