Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP
In our business or personal life, the process is a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn, but most of all, experiences to enjoy. In my past I have had a lot of remarkably interesting experiences that I have had to deal with, I have met people who have gone through a lot in their life who have taught me. I listened, I adapted, and I moved forward. For me as a mediator in business issues, I have learned that my most experience skill was to listen. In my past business experience my most important experience was to listen, think and then respond. When people were at the negotiating table, pounding on the table, using the obscenest language ever, my experience told me to listen, stay on point, and get everyone to the point they are listening and thinking about options. But the most important was to listen. Many times, people have walked away from heated discussions and objections, to listening and considering the option put on the table. Some even walked away wanting to do more work with their former opponent.
The experiences I have had in running and owning my own companies have taught me a lot. Especially during a crisis. The biggest crisis in my life taught me so much about listening and remaining silent, asking the right questions, never responding in anger. Well, not all the time. I have tried my best. But to get back on point, the toughest decisions I have had to make was during a crisis and the most I learned was during that time. When you are challenged with an adverse event, learn from it. As I said before that event will teach you and you will be able to pass on your experience and advice to someone else in the future. I know I have, repeatedly.
Now there will be some experiences you will only watch and observe and find out who in the experience are the ones to stay away from. I will give you a good example of an experience that I had no control over, but I learned who the bad players were. At one point in my business, I represented top boxer in the world, the boxer on tax issues. I had flown to the Philippines to meet with him and his legal staff. When you deal with high profile people you usually end up sit and wait for them to call you to sit down for a meeting. About 10:00 p.m. we got the call to go and meet him at a studio where he was filming a commercial. We zoomed and went into this old broken-down building with a sound state in it. We were lead upstairs and told to wait. I sat down at a table with the President of a TV station in the Philippines. As we waited one of the boxers managers came in and walked by. However, an actor was sitting at another chair, and he hated this guy. The actor got up and threw the first punch to the Manger, then one picked the other one up and threw him onto the table I was sitting at. Blood was flying and fists were pounding each other. Now this was an interesting story, and the drama of the room. When it was my turn to sit down with Manny on his taxes suddenly there was a crowd around us to listen to what I had to say. These people were part of the tax problem and the threats started flying at me. I sat there and listened, watched, and learned very quickly who the people in the room were that you could not trust, and I knew I had to change my approach when dealing with Manny. This however is a widespread problem when dealing with high profile clients, everyone wants to get in on the action and pretend they know something when they don't know anything. You learn by listening, watching, and make sure these experiences you learn from.
Listen, observe, ask questions, put options on the table, listen to other people’s options, negotiate well, manage the conflict quickly before it gets out of control. Conflict costs money and reputation, the faster you resolve the issue, the faster you can move forward. The faster you can focus on other things you want to accomplish. It is all about experience.