People spend so much time, money and effort on their business. Yet, blow opportunities with just a few words. There is a famous saying by Maya Angelou that says, people forget what you say, but remember how you made them feel. While this is true, sometimes what you say is remembered. If it is the wrong thing, you can get scratched off the partner, referral or purchase list.
You may never watch what you say or perhaps you always put on a game face. Maybe you fall somewhere between but aren’t sure what you should do with the current focus on authenticity and transparency.
Rule of Thumb: If you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother or young daughter, don’t say it to a potential client.
Do you ever take into consideration the filter that affects how a person hears what you say? (Cue record scratch.) We all have filters through which we experience the world. They are made up of a combination of factors including culture, race, background and religious beliefs. Everything you say goes through those filters. The result is potentially VERY different than what you intended.
This means we must all be aware of the context of our conversations. I am not suggesting you be fake. In Church, however, you probably do not regale your party days to the preacher’s wife. Nor do you tell your in-laws about the girls you slept with before marrying their precious gem. So why then would you say things to business colleagues that are better left for poker night with your buddies?
Consider who you are talking to and the result you seek. If you hang with your best friend, your conversation will be different than if you mingle with an associate. Go ahead and be yourself, authentic and transparent. Keep in mind, context is everything!
Do you easily connect with people? Great! This does not, however, give you a hall pass to say anything. The rule of thumb still applies. Why risk saying something that might push away business? There is a myriad of topics that build strong connections.
This is the part where I say watch how much you drink. It is common to grab a few drinks to calm the nerves. Seems harmless, but sometimes we grab one drink too many, then forget to eat, so the alcohol hits us harder than expected. This is where some people shoot themselves in the foot.
Funny enough, I know people who purposely pretend to drink at business events and instead hold the same glass all night, or quickly toss the liquid in a plant when nobody is watching. Why? Because they know what too many drinks can do to them. They aren’t willing to sacrifice the potential business for a little fun. No need to be a teetotaler, just keep your senses about you.
The point of attending a business function is to build relationships to grow your business. With that in mind, I want to share with you some phrases I have heard way too many times at business events over the last decade. They all kill income and business growth.
“I would bang her.”
This is the most common faux pas I hear at business functions. Sometimes, it is about a girl that doesn’t look of legal age. This is NOT what a parent of a little girl wants to hear. Frankly, no woman wants to hear this either. Why would we? This statement adds zero value to the conversation, but it does tell us that your manners need work, and your crass nature could be a liability if we refer a trusted client to you.
Most people who are serious about referring business know that the person they refer and the person who receives the referral are both an extension of their reputation. Why would someone who actively seeks to grow their network, send someone business that would potentially make them look bad? They wouldn’t.
“You are horrible at this.”
(Said to psych someone out so they perform poorly; substitute “this” with Golf, Tennis, etc.)
Nobody wants to partner with or send business to a poor loser or heckler. No matter how great you are at something, there will always be somebody out there who is better. Do not be petty just because you like being the big fish. Another person’s success does NOT take away your power. Please do not try to disempower someone to remain top dog. You will not win friends or clients with this tactic.
”You can’t do that.”
Nobody wants negativity directed at them. We all want supporters. If you aren’t in that category, don’t expect to be chosen for someone’s inner circle or to get a referral or promotion. No one wants a friend or associate who spews negative statements at us.
“You should let that guy have the upper hand.”
(Said to women.)
This isn’t the 1940s. Do NOT treat women like they should take the back seat. Those same women just might send you 90% of your future clients. Fat chance that will happen if you try to push them backwards.
Now the person you said that to will think, “Is he going to lie/cheat/steal from me?” This is not a great way to build goodwill.
“I don’t like that guy.”
You might be talking to that guy’s business partner. You never know who is in someone’s network, so it is best to keep negative comments to yourself.
“That chick is…”
Derogatory statements about women don’t fly. I’m not saying this because I am a woman. I speak to men all the time, who are shocked at things other guys say to them. Anyone who has a wife, sister or daughter also has an additional filter through which they listen to what you say about girls/chicks/women. If a potential client can picture you saying something bad about their daughter, will they want to give you their money? Not. There are too many options; people do not have to buy from someone they do not like.
There will always be competition vying for the same clients. If you want to ensure you win as many of those clients and supporters as possible, just stick to conversation that won’t make someone question your character. You can maximize or kill your income and business growth with what you say. Remember, everyone we meet is potentially a client, partner or referral of business.
Photo: Flickr/ Tim Caynes