Like most people, I have been known to act without thinking. But there are consequences. As the saying goes, good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. What the best decision makers discover over time is that there is an essential collection of strategies enabling us to act with more clarity and confidence, resulting in better outcomes. One of these strategies is rehearsing what you’re going to say before approaching someone about a particular decision.
Last week, for example, I went online to see if I could improve on the phone plan my family and I pay for each month. Unfortunately, the company website was so confusing, I gave up trying to use it. That left me with going to the local store and chatting with a salesperson. Like many, however, I’ve become wary of talking with most sales representatives. But since sometimes there is no alternative, I’ve learned to prepare in advance.
I began by answering my favorite decision-making question, “What will success look like?” The more of a detailed vision I can create up front, the better chance I have of achieving that vision. In this particular case it was an unlimited plan for less money. Once I had a clear vision of the outcome, I printed out screenshots of the webpages offering the plan I desired, along with the ones that had confused me. (For instance, “How come when I click on the offer for $35 per line for four lines, the total on the next page comes out as $249? The taxes can’t be that much.”)
Once I had my questions prepared and my “evidence” printed out, I rehearsed the questions I had prepared out loud a couple of times to make sure I could explain myself clearly and confidently. When I got to the store, the conversation went remarkably well, probably because I appeared confident and well prepared. So what was the result of this two minutes of additional preparation?
First, I was clear on the desired outcome. This enabled me to better prepare for an encounter with the salesperson. Second, I was more confident. Not only did I feel well prepared, I had taken a minute to rehearse what I was going to ask to make sure I got it right. Third, I was rewarded with my clearly defined outcome — a phone bill that is now $50 less per month and allows for unlimited data.
Now, you might say, “Sure, I know all this.” But do you implement this kind of process consistently? I’m just sayin’.