I feel anxiety building deep within my gut. Matzie is talking again. She repeats herself as an unrelenting barrage of words flows from her mouth. Glancing at Aaron, he appears to be checking his notes. My eyes shift to Josey, and she looks bored. The one-hour meeting is half over. It should be a 30-minute meeting as nothing is getting done.
A buzzing sound fills my ears.
The clock says 5 a.m. “Was I dreaming,” I ponder? No, I was sleeping lightly, and my subconscious was preparing for our 9 a.m. meeting in the conference room. My anxiety is raging. I got up for a light workout, a short shower, and breakfast.
I drove to the office, gathering my thoughts. Our small IT solutions business has experienced a sales reduction because of our legacy network system during the pandemic. I knew that fewer sales were at the root of my anxiety, but I was not ready to accept that fact.
As the technical sales representative on our team, I knew our old system well. Despite my comfort with our product and the enjoyment I gained from selling it, I knew most of our clients wanted to move to the cloud. Not ready to retire, I was working on new certifications to make the shift myself. I enjoy learning, so the change represents something new for me. At my age, my best career choice was to remain with the company and help our existing clients make the transition. For the company, it meant reduced revenues for a season but long-term survivability.
Time for another meeting
There was not much to do in preparing for today’s meeting. The three visitors in my subconscious dream arrived promptly. Aaron started the meeting and started with the first agenda item. Matzie was the first to inject a comment. Josie stared into her coffee and felt a new round of anxiety welling up.
Matzie was making her case about her latest idea for increasing sales using a new round of webinars and seminars. Unfortunately, she limited her strategy to enhancements to the existing product. Her points were good, but I felt her value propositions could be more easily achieved with cloud solutions.
Our meeting was half over. Matzie is circling back to an earlier point to support her technology views. Aaron was demonstrating his patience. Josie was nursing her second cup of coffee. I was ready to explode. I checked my emotions and suggested that Matzie and I discuss her ideas further in a second meeting. Matzie and I were a good team. She would find the leads and set up technical sales meetings for me to design and present our solution. She would follow up on contract negotiations and close the deal. Josey would get the contract and must figure out how to deliver it. She agreed to a meeting later that day.
The Real Meeting
Not having much time to prepare, I begin to gather my thoughts. The meeting was one that I knew required preparation time. I have been waiting for this opportunity to talk with Matzie. We experience our share of conflict and achieve great results when we cooperate.
Matzie is motivated and outgoing. She never shies from anyone who she likes or sees opportunity. She knows how to network and negotiate. Her overbearing personality and quick decision-making ability keep me on my toes. I find her high energy and big ideas challenging. I am a bit surprised that she has not embraced new technology. When I have something to say, we compete to hear one another. She wants to chase the next deal with enthusiasm, and I tend to slow down and be more linear in my approach.
Listen to What is Said
I knew Matzie would share her thoughts. I knew that I needed to listen fully to everything she was saying, even if it took multiple explanations. Even though I’d heard it all before, patience was my demeanor. Her points were clear but seemed to lack applicability in every situation. My initial reaction was that she was omitting some facts. Rather than ask about the omissions, I let her talk and took a few notes.
Understand the Message
My commitment to solutions requires me to understand what is important to other people. Without that knowledge, I am limiting myself to addressing their needs with my ideas. I began to make statements about her presuppositions, “You believe that our existing solution will support our client’s needs. Have you thought about how we can remain competitive with the regular release of new cloud solutions?” Also, she felt embarrassed that she had to propose a new cloud solution to customers who recently purchased our legacy solution.
We went back and forth for 15-minutes as I dug into her ideas. Fortunately, she was open to our interaction and receptive to my ideas.
Respond with Your Message
Matzie never requires long explanations. It was time to fight my tendency toward lengthy descriptive statements. Taking time to understand what she was saying, I knew she was uncomfortable competing in this new space. In some weird way, the older solution would become a differentiator in the market. Her vision was to position our solution as the dependable and secure classic in our niche, the old Oldsmobile 442 of IT, powerful and classy. Her omission is that those old 442s were too expensive to drive and maintain. They are great for Sunday drives and car shows but not everyday work vehicles.
I began to bridge her insecurities about the prospect of her approaching recently acquired clients about changing their infrastructure again. For the rest of our meeting, we strategized about this transition and how to present it to Aaron.
Engage the Solution
Every meeting should produce action items. We knew that some of our older clients were asking about transitioning their business to a cloud solution, and not every client would make this change. Offering a cloud solution would open a new revenue stream and more options for clients and prospects. Matzie could ideate with anyone and make the transition. Josey, and her team, would stay busy with the legacy solution for some time. Aaron would expand his business and position it for the future. We scheduled a meeting with Aaron.
Cooperating and avoiding conflict
We would work together. Our worries and anxieties were manageable. I would continue my path to learn new technology and authentic communication, setting aside my fears and insecurities. Also, I wanted to appreciate Matzie for her unique contributions and not blame her for her inconsistencies.
You have a message that other people need to hear. This article illustrates a practical example of how authentic communication can influence your success. It is easy to blame others or take passive roles to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, that robs you and others of your best contribution.
Stay tuned for the next chapter as complications arise when a new solution comes to light.
Did you know that you can deal with communication conflict through authenticity even when other people are not playing fair? Learn more here.