I’ll give Sam Ovens all the credit for this one.

Sam is a is an entrepreneur from Auckland, New Zealand, and I’m taking a sales and marketing course from him; it’s not only dynamite, it is also a 2 X 4-whacked-against-my-forehead reminder that it seems I need fairly often.

Maybe you do, too.

(I won’t do more of a plug for Sam. Just check him out at www.SamOvens.com. Maybe it’s the Kiwi accent, or that I’m a raving All Blacks rugby fan, but this New Zealander really gets it right.)

Sam reminds me, as a business person and as a human being, to “release all attachment to “YES,” and put all attachment into what he calls “Accurate Diagnosis”.

In other words, we consciously sidetrack our own objectives, even if only temporarily, by focusing on understanding exactly what other people are telling us they need. “Seek first to understand,” as the saying goes.

For one thing, people can smell our agenda at 1,000 yards. Even if they aren’t aware of it, they know. And being human, with fight/flight/freeze coded deep in their bones, they become suspicious and defensive. Even if our agenda is to help, it is risky for people to allow themselves to be open to help. Being open can be dangerous.

We may never completely lose our personal agendas, whatever they may be, but an effort to do so helps others trust us. When we replace self-seeking, or “getting-to-yes,” with a genuine desire to deeply understand what people want, they sense this too. Then the risk of opening up doesn’t seem quite so risky.

Forgetting our yes and remembering their what helps people trust us. But perhaps even more importantly, it helps us trust ourselves. And people sense this too: integrity, being whole, no inner contradiction, no barter.  We become who we say we are.

And it works.

Thanks, Sam.


photo credit: Atlanta