You ask a coworker about the status of a project, and he starts talking about how his dog kept him up all night. Pulling a simple answer from someone who rambles on and on with seemingly no interest in making a point can test your patience.
Here’s how to help ramblers focus:
- Repeat your question. If the rambler veers off topic, cut in at the first opportunity and repeat what you asked, without sighing or fidgeting.
- Frame your answer. When you pose a question, offer two or three alternatives that reveal the type of answer you seek. Example: “Did you determine why that account expired. Was it because of a miscommunication, poor service or some other cause?”
- Explain why you need a quick, succinct answer. Example: “I’m asking you this because I have only 20 minutes to prepare for the meeting and I need those facts.”
- Ask for “the short version.” Genially request a “30-second overview” rather than a full analysis. Specify exactly what you need to know. Example: “Let’s have your bottom-line assessment of the top three downsides of pursuing this strategy.”
This is a guest post by Dan Waldschmidt.
Great people throughout history often fail, quite miserably, before finally reaching their goals, says international business strategist Dan Waldschmidt.
“Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime; Winston Churchill lost every public election until becoming prime minister at age 62; Henry Ford went bankrupt five times; Albert Einstein was a terrible student and was expelled from school; Sigmund Freud was booed from a stage,” says Waldschmidt, author of “Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Achieve Outrageous Success,” (www.EdgyConversations.com).
“Ideas, brilliance, genius – they all mean nothing without the guts, passion and tenacity necessary to make your dream a reality. But often, people fall back on excuses and give up on trying to reach their goals.” Most of us have dreams, and many of us have big ones, but few of us actually see them through, he says.
He offers six tricks for jumping off the excuse train and forge the path to your goals.
- Avoid the need to blame others for anything. Mean, small-minded people know that they suck. That’s why they are so cranky and eager to point out others’ mistakes. They hope that by causing others to feel inadequate, everyone will forget about how woefully off the mark their own performance is. Don’t blame anyone, for any reason, ever. It’s a bad habit.
- Stop working on things that just don’t matter. Not everything needs to be done in place of sleep. If you work for a boss, then you owe the person solid time. You can’t cut that out. You can, however, cut out television time, meetings and anything else that gets in the way of achieving your goals. Replace entertainment with activity toward your goal.
- Refuse to let yourself wallow in self-doubt. You’re alive to succeed. Stop comparing your current problems to your last 18 failures. They are not the same. You are not the same. Here’s something to remember: Your entire life has been a training ground for you to capture your destiny right now. Why would you doubt that? Stop whining. Go conquer.
- Ask yourself, “What can I do better next time?” And then do it next time. If you spend a decade or two earnestly trying to be better, that’s exactly what will happen. The next best thing to doing something amazing is not doing something stupid. So learn from your mistakes and use the lessons to dominate.
- Proactively take time to do things that fuel your passion. Exercise is a great example. Living in the moment requires you to live at peak performance. A huge part of mental fitness is physical fitness. A sparring or running partner is a great way to refresh physical competition. Physical activity accelerates mental motivation.
- Apologize to yourself and those around you for having a bad attitude. Do this once or twice and you’ll snap out of your funk pretty fast. When you start genuinely apologizing for being a bad influence on those around you, you learn to stop whining and start winning.
Dan Waldschmidt is the author of “Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Achieve Outrageous Success,” (www.EdgyConversations.com). He is an international business strategist, speaker, author and extreme athlete. His consulting firm solves complex marketing and business strategy problems for savvy companies all over the world. Dow Jones calls his Edgy Conversations blog one of the top sales sites on the internet. He’s been profiled in BBC, Fox News and The Today Show, and he is a sought-after media source.
You can’t agree to every request that you receive throughout the workday. When you need to decline, take these steps to add meaning to your ”No”:
- Listen. The more thoroughly you understand the request, the more meaningful your response will be. Ask questions and listen carefully to convey your respect to the speaker.
- Pause. Control your impulse to offer an immediate response. Take time – about five to 10 seconds – to consider the request and frame your reply.
- Reply straightforwardly. Once you’ve determined that you should decline, calmly state I’m going to have to say “No.” Don’t chicken out and say ”Let me think about it,” “Maybe” or “I’ll get back to you.” Remember, the person making the request may have a backup plan in mind. By offering a clean refusal, you will enable the individual to approach someone else.
- Have a reason. You’re under no obligation to share your reason for turning down a request. But doing so may help the other person understand your priorities and goals. That could help you avoid having to turn down similar requests in the future.
- Offer alternatives. Can you suggest another person who might be better able to provide the service you’ve been asked for? Perhaps you can offer limited assistance that will aid the other person without creating too big a strain on your time.
What’s the worst reaction you’ve received to telling someone “No”?