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The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 22, 2009 • Issue 09:06:02


Welcome your inner dingbat

How do you feel about mistakes, flaws and downright stupid maneuvers? Do you have a kindly attitude toward your own? What about those of your colleagues?

The truth is all ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) with any longevity in the payments industry have made plenty of errors along the way. But owning up to those wrong turns and learning from them is a skill many find elusive.

People usually don't want to broadcast their errors; they don't want others to do it for them either. Is it just human nature to want to hide bloopers?

Or perhaps it's early experiences with disapproving teachers who looked for victims to call on while students averted their eyes, hoping not to be caught voicing the wrong answer for all in the classroom to hear.

But whatever the cause, it's time to stop shrinking from missteps and accept them instead. Embracing shortcomings rather than evading them is the sign of a successful and self-confident person.

Change upon change

The economy is always shifting gears, requiring new strategies on the part of ISOs and MLSs as consumers and merchants alter their habits and practices to adapt to changing circumstances.

The industry is ever in flux, too, with new technologies being developed at a rapid clip and ever stiffer data security requirements coming to bear.

Given the constantly evolving environment, few players have the time to master all the rules before the landscape transforms. That means you can't avoid making occasional mistakes. But if you can admit to them, laugh at them and learn from them, you'll be able to let them go and advance to the next challenge.

Negative to positive

Following are a few pointers to help you and your sales team turn mistakes from negative experiences into positive ones:

  • Perfect retort principle: If you catch an error in your marketing materials while you're in the middle of a presentation, offer a response that lets people know you've taken it in stride.

  • Maybe you switch slides in a carefully prepared presentation, and a typo rears its ugly head on a 20-foot screen. Or perhaps your prospect finds a misspelled word in the hottest, slickest brochure you've ever put together.

  • Remember, the effect of such errors is determined by your delivery. Just say, "My assistant knows I am a perfectionist. He always adds one or two errors so I'll experience the joy of finding one." If that doesn't elicit a chuckle or two, you're in the wrong room.

  • Standing ovation strategy: If a co-worker is having a bad day and, despite Herculean efforts, is struggling to master a sales presentation, have him or her stand up and receive a robust round of applause and appreciative remarks from your colleagues. It will stimulate smiles and ease tension. It will also show your team that effort deserves to be rewarded.

  • Blunder bonus: At the end of your next staff meeting, put a $10 or $20 bill (or whatever you consider an appropriate amount) on your conference table and then recount your latest blooper. End with, "Anyone who can top that deserves this bill."

    As embarrassing stories are shared around the room, trust is reinforced, since all are demonstrating their willingness to show imperfection. The personal anecdotes will surely evoke laughter. And when lessons are learned from mistakes revealed with a dash of humor, those lessons are remembered.

Realism over perfectionism

Striving to do your best always makes sense; expecting perfection never does. Expecting perfect work from yourself and your team has serious negative repercussions:

  • It fosters a judgmental, rather than a supportive work environment.
  • It hampers the free flow of information.
  • It inhibits the learning process.
  • It creates tension among colleagues.
  • It saps joy and exacerbates stress.
  • It contributes to dissatisfaction and attrition.

On the other hand, acknowledging and embracing your imperfections and those of your colleagues opens innumerable avenues in which energy can flow and deals can flourish.

When sharing foibles, it's all about laughing at what you do, not who you are. You'll find it is far easier to admit you made a mistake than to admit you are one.

You'll also notice that bringing blunders to the refreshing balm of supportive, lighthearted scrutiny leads to greater productivity and promotes self-confidence. And self-confidence translates to sales. end of article

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