In a recent Fortune magazine article, consultant Pontish Yeramyan, discussed how leaders build connections between themselves, their vision and their workforce. One bit of advice was: Say things that are hard to say. That it may seem counterintuitive, that sometimes stating the tough truth — without placing blame or hurting — can instantly create bonds between people.
I recall one moment early in my firm’s history. Part of our brand promise was helping client’s with what they needed, not just what they wanted. (It is my experience that more often than not, what a client WANTS is very different from what they actually NEED; and that part of my job is to recognize and help them see that difference.)
A great friend, and at the time, a potential client, Gavin Kerr, once told me “This is what I want.” I carefully, politely and appropriately found a way to say, “I know that’s what you want, but I think this is what you need.”
Telling a client “No” can be one of those make-or-break bonding moments. In this case: Gav politely said “no thanks” and sent me packing. Six months later he called to said “You were right…Please come back in to see me.” A year after that, he was at a new company, PepsiCo, and invited my company to work on a project that would be a breakthrough moment for all of us.
All because I said “No” during that first meeting. Sometimes saying things that are hard to say creates the strongest bonds of all.