Are you drinking your own Kool-Aid®?

March 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm 4 comments


Babette Ten Haken
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The next time you make a presentation to clients, or are speaking with them via conference call, or however you communicate with them…. listen to yourself.  Is your message fresh, engaging,  interesting and relevant? Are you talking WITH them or AT them? Have you become a “talking head”, providing broadcasts rather than dialogue?

I understand that we are all good, very very good at what we “do.” We’ve spent a lot of money on our education, and we’ve gotten the degrees and the professional credentials that show the world just how good we are.  So when did we get to the point where we became too “good” to listen to ourselves and learn from others, including our clients?

Or perhaps we  have become too protective of everything we’ve “earned.”  We perceive new voices in our profession as competition rather than opportunities to expand the dialogue. We circle the wagons and find reasons to exclude in our circle of associates because the new folks are “not”. 

Not an engineer, not an architect, not a graduate of the same institution, not on management track, not the top business development person, not in the business as long as we have been, not old enough, not young enough, not an entrenched member of our business community, not established.   You fill in the blank:   not _____. 

Please put down your glass of Kool-Aid.  And perhaps your fears of being less relevant to your clients.  Or exposing areas in which you aren’t as knowledgeable as you could be.  Or that folks will think you are “not worthy.”  Or worrying that you are losing your “edge” – whatever that means.

The point is: how can we become better at what we “do” by learning more from our dialogues with others?   And we can’t learn more if we are only listening to ourselves.  You know, always waiting for our turn to speak. 

Has our idea of “dialogue” turned into an “auto-pilot” prompt to wake up and “perform” when we are addressing others on all-to-familiar topics:  “our” topics, our areas of expertise?

If you find yourself sitting in meetings waiting for the verbal cues that signal it’s your time to join the conversation as the “expert talking head”, you may not be getting the full value out of attending that meeting.   Why sift through the conversation to determine how much of it is relevant to you? Rather, the entire conversation is relevant to them… perhaps you are only a small part of the whole.

You might learn something by shifting your dynamnics.  So might “they.”

It just depends on what you are thirsty for.  Your Kool-Aid or theirs……


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Babette Ten Haken  |  April 7, 2011 at 9:49 am

    To all who have commented thusfar, my thanks! Liz, these days, when I present to clients, I don’t use a PPT presentation. I find it creates barriers since everyone is looking at a screen vs. engaged in dialogue with each other. We are too “trained” to look at screens these days, aren’t we? And I agree with your comment. People don’t hire us because of the thrill of working with us, as though there is some perceived “prestige” (our perspective entirely, I fear). They hire us because of the perceived value and return on their investment. What’s in it for THEM should always be our focus.

  • 2. Morgan  |  April 6, 2011 at 11:34 am

    One of the best posts I have seen in YEARS!

  • 3. Liz  |  April 4, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I read something a while back regarding mistakes companies make when presenting to clients. One of them addressed the attention that firms place on stating how “great” they are but neglect to state how the client will benefit.

  • 4. Robert Gately  |  April 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Engineering managers would be well-advised to participant in a 360 evaluation that includes; the boss, self, peers, direct reports, and clients. Such insight into our own behaviors is hard to acquire any another way. Peers and direct reports, clients included, often will not share their perspectives on a manager’s job performance for fear of retribution real or imagined.


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