The Usual Suspects – great film, but I’m not talking about the film. I’m talking about the questions we tend to get asked at work. I was coaching a client recently and we spent a couple of hours working on a simple question – “haven’t seen you for a while; how’s it going?” If the individual asking you that question is a potential customer or a senior colleague, then whether your answer is “fine” or something a bit more interesting, even insightful, could be surprisingly important. First impressions etc. Understandably, my client made the observation that he simply didn’t have the time to spend 2 hours on each possible question he might get asked. I agree. But the truth is that it’s amazing how often we get asked a relatively small numbers of questions: “how’s it been going, tell me a bit about yourself, so what do you do, how are you different from your competition?” to name a few. There are many forms of these questions, but when you distill them down….you get the idea. It’s the usual suspects.
So my question to you is to ask whether you’ve spent some “not urgent, but very important” time making sure that, in cricketing terms, you can hit those usual suspects for 6 runs, or a glorious home run if baseball is your game or if sport is not your thing, that you can give me a compelling, interesting and memorable response.
And if there’s a bit of you doubting whether this is all a load of cobblers, then I’d refer you to Malcom Gladwell’s cracking read “the Tipping Point” and that brilliant salesman Tom Gau he talks about.
So when the stakes are high and you get asked one of your Usual Suspects, willl you blow their socks off or blow the opportunity?