My youngest son, John, graduated from Michigan Tech recently. Very proud papa! But just the same, Connie & I are officially empty nesters! Yea!!!
When ‘we’ were picking a college, I pushed for what I thought would be his perfect choice… prestigious, ranked tops in his field, not too close to home, and one that would drive him hard. John had other ideas. The moment he stepped onto the MTU campus, he knew it was the place for him. I fought. I lost. And I now humbly admit that he could not have made a better decision.
A situation arose last week that brought me back to my son picking *HIS* college. I was invited to meet with a fast growing company that was having major issues with an implementation. Immediately, I knew a major part of their problem was that they had “gone cheap” on the project. I asked some probing questions and then proceeded to “solving their problem”.
At first I thought the meeting was going well, but as we dug deeper, an underlying tension started taking root. I was getting pushback. From my perspective at the time, they had a problem. They invited me in for advice. And they were at a loss for how to solve their dilemma. But, by the end of the meeting, I felt like they were fighting me, and they essentially wanted to do the same thing they had been doing, only substituting a different vendor. I left the meeting frustrated and without direction. I know they did, too.
The interaction weighed on me over the weekend. “What could I have done differently to kick things off more positively? How might I get the relationship back on track?” My wife is amazing at this kind of thing. I sought out her perspective. Here’s what she helped me understand…
- The process of developing a relationship requires time to develop the trust that is needed to go down a threatening path together.
- More than just asking questions & listening (something that I still can improve upon greatly, I must admit), I need to be more discerning, especially when it comes to uncovering the “real problem lurking underneath the problem at hand”.
- At the same time, I need to remain aware that the problem I think they are trying to solve may not be the one they are trying to solve. Or worse, I try to solve the problem that I know they have, when they don’t see it as a problem at all. (Since I’m on the couch and you’re my cyber-therapist, I’ll admit that this “hero complex” gets me in hot water more often than I care to admit.)
No links or suggestions of things to read this week. I just needed to get this off my chest. Thanks for “listening”. Next week, I might turn the table and make some suggestions about what you can do to make the most of developing a relationship with a new vendor.