Psychology studies have repeatedly concluded that nearly 90% of the reason customers decide to do business with us is HOW we look and HOW we speak. Only roughly 10% depends on what we say or what's on that confusing Power Point slide.
In my investment firms, this finding made total sense. When I spoke to new investor groups, instead of the audience understanding the color charts and graphs on the screen, I knew they were instead sizing me up, personally, to see if I fit the picture of that investor they liked on CNBC. Did I use the same words they had read in the Wall Street Journal? Did I emit the correct energy and character which would help them feel comfortable working with me?
Today, we so easily get wrapped up in the explanations, the details, the algorithms, that we forget what truly controls our business success, that 90%. Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal opinion columns periodically attempt to implore our society back to manners and proper formalities, and these always reminds me that I, and my businesses, are likely due for another Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People update This is the 90%. As many of you know, Carnegie is required reading in our companies, as we believe it is crucial for the success of A-Players.
One year, to the distress of my restaurant partners, I even passed out these books to our service managers and bartenders. My partners said, "You mean the same bartender I have to call every day to explain why it's important for him to come to work today, you now want me to have him read Dale Carnegie?!" If we could only get everyone to understand the true forces of the universe which control our success.
Ms. Noonan reminds us in her columns that we have grown even more rude, slovenly, indifferent and cold. She claims great nations run on manners, "the lubricant that allows the great machine to hum," and I would add that this goes double for great businesses. She, of course, has much angst with our current smartphone culture, especially the 30-something screeching into her phone at the nail spa because she was "closing a deal!" But she says to correct these people "would be like slapping the maid." One of my favorite lines! So, let's review a few more important lessons from Mr. Carnegie this week to increase our success:
1. Appeal to Nobel Objectives. Simply give people a fabulous reputation to live up to. If you constantly tell your associates how hardworking and creative they are, they will eventually believe they are, and their actions will emulate this instilled mindset. If you constantly tell your management team how proud you are of them for handling the 1,000 personnel issues with compassion and strategic vision, they will naturally strive to be "that leader they always wanted to be." Of course, if you tell your kids daily how ridiculously smart they are, their grades will reflect it. If you tell your spouse everyday how much you admire their love and grace, you will be blown away by their actions and happiness. We hold the power of the gods in our fingertips and on our lips, if we could just remember to use this power for good every day.
2. Ask Questions Instead of Giving Direct Orders. Unlike maybe you and me, 98% of the country has never served in the military. The world has changed, and it's not a one-factory town where the employees have to do what the boss says, or else. People have options. At the start of every company retreat, I put up the pyramid management chart, and I turn it upside down to communicate to the sales force and operations staff that the CEO and the executives all work for them, not the other way around.
We must achieve our influence by helping others find the answers themselves. A brilliant leader facilitates and empowers everyone else to come up with all of the answers. Even when a specific directive must be given, it is presented as a question, as an idea. Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) must now be everyone else's ideas [at least they must think they are!]. Ever notice how your spouse will never follow through on the project you believe is of utmost importance for the family, but if it's something they deeply care about, they shock you with unbelievable commitment and execution? Asking questions takes practice and requires much more wisdom and grace than giving orders, but I am confident you will soon master this, Grasshopper.
3. Never say, "You're Wrong." Most of us know that the moment we tell our colleague their opinion is wrong, a wall one-hundred-feet high goes up, and they become even more entrenched in their belief and opposed to anything further we have to say. Unfortunately, many times we just can't stop ourselves from telling Bob, and everyone else, how stupid is his idea. We then make it worse by trying to pay Bob a compliment and then say BUT he is still wrong. When we say but, all the other human hears is, "Everything I just said before this but is false, and likely condescending or demeaning." We must replace all buts with ands in every sentence. Our success will skyrocket, and our relationships will remain strong for the next time we need Bob on our side. Recently, I was forced to petition the courts to remove the presiding judge from a legal matter in which she was, unfortunately, biased and conflicted in multiple ways. I first stated I had great respect for her service to the courts and the country, which is completely true. Then I stated, "AND, unfortunately, in this specific matter" it appeared there needed to be a change. It is key to always show the proper respect to the other party, Place Post-it Notes on your computer screen and bathroom mirror that say "No Buts!"
Have a great week and remember that great manners are the lubricant of success!
"Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson-Book, "A Return to Love"