You feel cornered?
“What does my customer like to talk about? I don’t even know…”
Well, don’t panic, first I am sure you have enough to entertain him a whole week. Just stay in your comfort zone and relax. Your business partner might be as indecisive about what to talk about. I have some tips I did applied to myself to prepare for such situation.
I enclosed a mind map to help you identify some subjects you can open and ensure both of you stay in your confort zones. A good preparation might be very important if you are having the conversation in a foreign language, you could then transform this mind map into a glossary and try to add as many positive terms as possible.
I recently had a talk about how little I could sometimes disclose about “who I really am” in a business environment. It triggered some questions on my behaviour. I took a step back and started to ask myself: “What to disclose, to whom, under which circumstances?”
I won’t argue here that one should play a character in a business environment. You can take improvisation theater lessons for fun but wouldn’t apply them in the office.
The considerations here aremore based on the jokes or very private talks a colleague can have at the workplace, you know, the kind of talks/joke you would rather not hear. In the map, a typical example would be when a colleague suddenly talk about his health problem, or his addictions…
What can I disclose to a friend, what can I disclose to a colleague? What would make me happy and the other happy to share, under which circumstances?
In the context of a dinner with a business partner, you want to avoid awkward moments. If you haven’t been reading the international press for ages and you are not sure what to talk about, well, there is plenty to say about who yourself. The mind map can help stay in a neutral zone.
This is just a draft but I started to map what I could share, friend versus colleague or business contact.
As you can see, I would be uneasy to talk about my business goal (“Oh, yeah, I would like to become CEO of your company, what do you say?”).
One could argue that this is very personal and I shouldn’t share that much about myself. Well, view through the PRISM of how much we all already share on the internet this is not much.
So here is how I applied the “what can I disclose mind map” to myself (and also prepared it with German idioms).
We could indeed extrapolate to what we share on Facebook (do you accept your colleagues as Facebook contacts?), what we share on LinkedIn, on Twitter.
NB: It is in fact the question “what to disclose to a colleague?” is a little bit more complicated, especially if you live in a rather small city and your friends tends to be your colleagues…. or the friends of your colleagues? Then even the information you disclose in a more private environment will eventually spread to your professional circles.