Accelerating Adult Learning

Hi, Everyone!

As I mentioned in the last Events posting, beginning on tomorrow’s Gold Team call at 11AM EST we will explore the “Napier Method” — tension management techniques in program training and facilitation.  During this 2-3 week series, we will cover five aspects of presenting and reinforcing information that help keep an audience engaged in the learning process and greatly accelerates the learning curve.

Here’s a link to the handout for the program:

The Napier Method

If you’re a Gold Team member and are currently involved in delivering any sort of training, please download the handout and plan to join in!



Tension Management in a Job Interview

Hi, Everyone!

I recently received a copy of John Hadley’s newsletter and thought his lead article would be great to share with all of you. John is a career search and enhancement counselor and, obviously, a ChangeWorks professional.

Managing Tension in the Interview by John Hadley

Candidates tend to come into an interview with a single-minded agenda, “getting the offer.” In the process of working hard to achieve that goal, they often miss a critical element: Tension Management!

The same is true for consultants coming into a meeting with a prospect – they are so focused on their agenda (selling their services) that they often miss out on the subtle changes in tension that are so critical to success.

The other extreme is the candidate who has virtually no agenda, who simply follows the interviewer’s lead on everything and hopes this will ultimately lead to an offer. This is a recipe for disaster, especially if leadership potential is at all part of the hiring decision.

Let’s look at 3 levels of tension you want to manage in the interview.

1. Your own personal tension. Few situations are as tense as a job interview. This is where the rubber hits the road – a make or break situation for landing the job that will end this protracted search.

You need to harness that tension, both reducing it to a manageable level and converting it from high stress to empowerment, confidence, and engagement.

With lots of preparation, including several hours of serious role play to hone your interview skills, you should be able to reach the required level of confidence in your abilities. Additional role play on specific areas with which you are uncomfortable, or that haven’t gone well in past interviews, is also valuable. Visualization exercises immediately prior to a specific interview can help you reach a state of calm that can carry you through the initial stress of walking into unfamiliar territory.

One caveat – don’t over-prepare. If you carefully craft and memorize the “best” answers to interview questions, they cease to even be “good” answers, because they become rehearsed and artificial rather than conversational. Focus more on technique and psychology than the exact words you might use.

In fact, if you find yourself getting a bit cocky about your ability to land this particular opportunity, you might want to think about ways you can raise the bar for yourself – to actually raise your own tension level a bit to get you re-engaged and re-energized.

2. Relationship tension. You want to minimize this as quickly as you can. You want me (as the interviewer) to see you as someone I want to be working with every day, someone I will enjoy having on my team, and in whom I have confidence and can always rely on to be watching out for my best interests.

Those little things you do at the start of the interview to build rapport and create a connection are vital – even just walking in smiling and giving a firm handshake. (I’m still shocked at how many people fail even this simple test!)

You need to reduce the relationship tension quickly so that the interviewer can focus on the bigger question of whether you are the person he/she wants to hire. As long as this tension is high, it will be a serious distraction for both of you, and you won’t be fully engaged in the critical conversation you need to have.

3. The interviewer’s tension. Most candidates fail to recognize this, or to respond properly to it if they do.

A core principle of tension management is that people pay attention to their tension. You want this working for you.

You might think you should reduce the interviewer’s tension. Absolutely not!

There are actually two dimensions to interviewer tension that you are trying to manage. You do want the interviewer’s tension about whether you can do this job to be as low as possible, but you want tension relating to the decision to hire you to stay high enough that they want to act right away!

So how do you manage this latter “hiring” tension?

Follow the interviewer’s tension (and observe it). When you see the interviewer getting excited about the conversation and showing a lot of passion, you are headed in the right direction. When you sense he/she is backing off and showing less interest, you’ve made a wrong turn and need to find ways to get back to riper areas.

To uncover (and accentuate) this positive tension, get into challenges. That is where you are most likely to uncover what is really important to the interviewer, and the drivers that will lead to a hiring decision. For more on this, see the two articles here:

Here’s a concrete example to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Suppose at some stage in the interview you are asked how you would solve a key problem faced by the company. This may also take the form of asking you to come in prepared to present a marketing plan or to make a presentation on your solutions to that problem.
What do you do?

Most would tend to do exactly what was requested, and would try to provide as detailed a plan or solution as possible to demonstrate that you can solve their problem. Big mistake.

By providing me a detailed road map to solve the problem, you reduce both my tension about your ability to do the job AND my hiring tension. The problem I presented no longer seems so insurmountable, because you have just given me the road map to its solution. Now I can see ways to solve it that don’t have to include you.

Instead, you want to show me that a solution exists, that you HAVE or CAN EASILY DEVELOP a road map without actually giving me the critical details that would let me feel I can follow it without you. Navigating the challenge that way will reduce my tension about your ability to do the job while INCREASING my hiring tension. I need to ‘buy’ you to get the actual solution!

For more on this, see my article on “Interview or Free Consulting” at:

So, for your next interview, or meeting with a potential client, I want you to ask yourself this question:

“Am I properly managing the interviewer’s tension?”

If not, and you need support through coaching and role play to master this, maybe we should talk… just fill out my Career Search Assessment survey, and we’ll set up a time to chat:

(Please note that this link takes prospects to John’s ChangeWorks Profile — and I’d be happy to provide the actual link, but I can’t figure out what the tinyurl link really is.  John — let me know if you’d like me to include it.)

If you’ve enjoyed John’s article, please leave a comment here on the blog —


Remembering Lloyd Livingston

Hi, Everyone!

Last week, I found myself relating a personal story to a ChangeWorks professional who had just left a meeting with a prospect that didn’t go as well as he had hoped. As he shared his regret over how the call went and how he would do things differently given the chance to do it again, a wonderful memory was triggered from a very long time ago.

I told him that my very first experience with personal development was taking the Dale Carnagie Course in Human Relations and Effective Public Speaking when I was 22.  My instructor was a remarkable gentleman by the name of Lloyd Livingston — a person who none of you may know, yet most of your lives have been touched by on a daily basis. How? In addition to being a Dale Carnagie instructor, Lloyd was also a paper engineer with the Ex-Cell-O Corporation and the inventor of the modern version of the milk carton.

But back to the story, one special message Lloyd gave to every class he taught definitely applied to the ChangeWorks professional’s situation:

“Every time you speak, there are three talks you give:  the talk you plan to give … the talk you give … and the talk you wish you’d given.” — Lloyd Livingston

I think that applies to sales calls just as much as platform speaking engagements (and a great many other things as well). It seems no matter how much thought you give to an upcoming sales presentation, what you intend to do will never be what you end up doing — and when it’s over, it’s a guarantee that you’ll have plenty of things you wish you had done instead. That’s just the way it is — and always will be.

We call it “learning.”


Engagement Rings — Well Sorta!

Hi, Everyone!

On this past Monday’s ChangeWorks Forum call, I presented a special layer of the ChangeGrid that reveals the level of engagement the respondent has around a given activity. Here is the diagram:

Awareness -- Intention -- Engagement -- Execution -- Growth (CLICK to view full size)

While I would certainly encourage all of you to review the Forum webinar recording, here are the highlights of the “Engagement Rings”:

“Awareness” is the first stage of deliberate change.  The individual is aware that the activity represents an element of beneficial change.  In and of itself, awareness changes very little about the person’s actual situation.

“Intention” is the second stage. The individual is not only aware of the need for change, they intend to do something about it.  We all know that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so while plotting in this band is a step in the right direction, it’s no guarantee.

“Engagement” is the third stage. The individual is actively involved in the preparatory and peripheral aspects of making the change. This band indicates real progress is being made.

“Execution” is the fourth stage. The individual is taking definitive action to realize the change.

“Growth” is the ultimate placement for maximizing the change process.

Certainly, not every location inside of a band is equal.  In fact, there is a marked difference between plotting in the UpGrid, MidGrid or DownGrid areas of a given band.  For example, UpGrid Awareness could be a very frightening situation while DownGrid Awareness might be nothing more than a mere acknowledgement that something could be better.

For those of you working in organizational settings, this layer of the ChangeGrid can offer your clients very valuable insight into the level of engagement their employees are experiencing about an entire list of activities.  That could easily set into motion a great opportunity for you to provide the level of support they need most.

Let me know what all of you think!


Tension Management in Interior Design

Hi, Everyone!

Today, I received one of “those” emails from a friend (actually, he often sends very funny things) and thought it actually offered a novel insight into the application of tension management in interior design.  Here are three examples:

This is a public restroom in London:

And here is the same public restroom from the INSIDE:

Personally, I’d find that rather disconcerting — but it’s REAL.  The next two may very well be photoshopped — regardless, they’re pretty amazing!

Imagine visiting a friend’s 20th floor condo, and stepping into this bathroom:

And here’s a Sistine Chapel-esque painting in a smokers’ lounge:

Tension Management is all around us!


Why Sales Reps Don’t Sell More

Hi, Everyone!

Here’s an article I wrote a couple of years ago exploring the reasons why sales professionals don’t sell as much as their managers want them to.

I thought you might find it interesting!


“Why Sales Representatives Don’t Sell More”

Are your sales representatives selling as much as you’d like? There are only two answers to that question —and BOTH can signal grave danger ahead.

If you said “YES” – or if ANY of your sales management team members even THINK the answer is “YES” – then, on behalf of the shareholders of your company, “PLEASE RESIGN, you are NOT doing the job.”

The central task of every manager is to entertain a healthy DIS-satisfaction for things the way they are — to follow and foster the belief that nothing IS or EVER WILL BE good enough and instill that belief in every individual in their charge. The capabilities of your team members — and the capacity of your company — are far from tapped out – and your job is to seek out, identify, develop and exploit those capabilities in pushing the limits of that capacity to greater and greater levels. You know you’re on the right track when your sales representatives say, “No matter how much I sell you always want more!”

If you said “NO” you can keep your job – but there’s still a serious problem.

In fact, if your sales representatives aren’t meeting the numbers you need them to meet, then one or a combination of the following five scenarios is the cause:

1) There’s something wrong with your product or service.

If there is something wrong with your product or service, you obviously need to figure out what it is and fix it. Unfortunately, between now and the time things are repaired, a great deal of unproductive tension will rise both inside and outside of your company. It is of paramount importance that while this is going on, your sales representatives diligently monitor and manage the level of productive tension experienced by everyone impacted by the problem. Add to this the extreme challenge of managing their own levels of productive tension and you have a recipe for disaster. If your customers, prospects, sales representatives and internal staff are ALL too far UpGrid to function productively, your sales results WILL come to a screeching halt.

2) There’s something wrong with your marketplace.

Regardless of whether the challenge is increased competition, a depressed economy, seasonal slumps, a community crisis or any one of countless factors impacting your marketplace there is STILL abundant opportunity for businesses to thrive IF the sales representatives understand that this is an issue of tension management. In these situations, the productive tension your prospects and customers had previously experienced is subordinated by the unproductive tension they’re experiencing about the current state of the marketplace. If your sales representatives don’t know how to reduce that unproductive tension and increase productive tension regarding your products or services, no one will be buying or selling anything.

3) There’s something wrong with your industry.

As was the case with the marketplace, problems with your entire industry present a similar challenge and require the same approach in remedying the situation. Technology? Legislation? Scandal? War? These situations are just a fraction of the things that can and will happen — and all of them have a detrimental impact on everyone’s level of productive tension. To combat the chaos and stop your business from becoming part of the collateral damage, your sales representatives must master the art of tension management.

4) There’s something wrong with your sales representatives.

If there’s something wrong with your sales representatives, then one or both of two things is true: they CAN’T sell and/or they WON’T sell. If the problem is one of ABILITY, you need to take a serious look at four things: knowledge, sales skills, professional experience and support resources. Do they need to understand more about your products and services and the needs within the marketplace? Are the sales skills they’ve been taught truly effective or have they abandoned the training they received? Do they lack experience in dealing with the client situations they encounter? Do they have access to the support they need to do what they’re expected to do? If the problem is one of WILLINGNESS, you need to identify the source of their resistance. Is the problem a lack of desire? Are emotions of anger and fear stopping them? Is there an effective accountability system in place?

5) There’s something wrong with your sales managers.

As was the case with your sales representatives, if there’s something wrong with your sales managers, then one or both of two things is true: they CAN’T manage and/or they WON’T manage.

More often than not, the problem here is one of ability. The vast majority of sales managers have never received any formal training in management, so they lack skills. That in turn makes the sales representatives question the value of their manager, so respect is compromised.

The worst of all scenarios, though is the sales manager who WON’T do what they were hired to do — and while the prognosis is poor, you must still identify the source of their resistance in order to prevent the same scenario from happening again. Is it a matter of burnout? Unrealistic expectations? A lack of support? Or have they lost faith in their upper management team? What’s the remedy?

Once you’ve identified why your sales representatives aren’t selling more, the answer will be a combination of sales and leadership skills training. No matter what challenges a company faces, skills training is the cornerstone of the solution. The only thing that will fix a bad economy is SALES and the only thing that will prevent another bad economy is LEADERSHIP.


If any of you would be interested in learning some of the skills we teach in the MasterStream Management program, let me know and I’ll put it in the schedule for the Gold Team ongoing educational webinars.


A Lesson in Selling

Hi, Everyone!

As I said in my last post, beginning this Wednesday, January 13 from 5PM -7PM, we’ll begin a 6-Week MasterStream Sales training webinar series.  It’s open to all Silver and Gold Team members as part of their support (others may attend for a fee). I do hope you’ll all participate!

I was looking through some articles I wrote about MasterStream and thought I’d share one with you:

“Sales Techniques to STOP Using if You Want to Sell More”

The differences between top sales professionals and the rest of the crowd isn’t just about what they DO – it’s about what they DON’T do as well! Over the course of more than 20 years developing the MasterStream Method, we’ve identified over two dozen traditional selling approaches that, upon closer examination, cause more damage than good. In this article, we’ll begin exploring several mistakes sales professionals make, starting with:

“Why “Feel … Felt … Found” is a Foolish Thing to Say”

The essence of every sales call is to complete three basic tasks: 1) help your prospect identify a situation in need of their immediate attention; 2) prove you’re the solution they need; and 3) secure their commitment.

Let’s focus on the first task.

Here’s a common situation sales professionals encounter: Let’s say you’re a financial services sales professional. You’re meeting with a prospective financial planning client and as you’re asking some basic fact-finding questions, your prospect reveals that they are worried about their retirement. There are only three ways you can respond to their statement — you can normalize their concerns … ignore their worries … or pursue their issue.

Traditional selling strategies would recommend that you take the edge off of the prospect’s worries and connect yourself more strongly to your prospect by using the “Feel … Felt … Found” technique. You’ve all heard it – probably even SAID it – before: “I understand exactly how you feel. Many of my clients felt the same way. But by working with us, they found the answers to their greatest concerns.”

So what’s wrong with that?

If you say that – or anything to the effect of, “Everyone is concerned about their retirement” or, “That’s what we hear people tell us every day” or even, “You’ve certainly come to the right place.” you’re normalizing what your prospect is experiencing. Stop and think about it: You’re actually telling them that their situation ISN’T as unique as they thought it was — that you deal with similar situations all the time … that their situation is commonplace. That awareness reduces your prospect’s level of productive tension as it calms their worries. In turn, that reduces the likelihood of your prospect confronting their situation and doing something about it, so STOP normalizing what your prospect is experiencing!

If you completely ignore your prospect’s statement and let it pass by without any acknowledgement whatsoever, you’re communicating that their concern is so unnecessary and their situation so inconsequential that it doesn’t even deserve a moment’s attention. If you dismiss your prospect’s concerns — directly or indirectly — you are robbing yourself of an ideal opportunity to help them solve a problem and could very well be harming them in the process, so STOP ignoring what your prospect is experiencing!

If you want to sell more, remember that whenever a prospect says they are worried about something, PURSUE the SUBJECT in greater detail. Questions like, “What troubles you the most about your retirement?” and, “What’s causing you to be so concerned?” and, “What are you afraid will happen?” are likely to reveal much more useful information, get to the true source of your prospect’s issue and open the door wider for you to be of service to them. The more you support your prospect in focusing on the uniqueness of their situation and the validity of their concerns, the more closely they will listen to what you have to say, the more valuable they will view your solution and the more quickly they will take action on your recommendations.

So, what effect are YOU having on YOUR prospects?