Last week I met an old friend. I was meeting her after six months. It was Saturday. In the morning I messaged her and asked her if she was free. She said yes and suggested that we go to some place for breakfast. I agreed.
At around 10 in the morning, we reached a South Indian restaurant in Delhi and had a nice Dosa for breakfast. It reminded me of the carefree college days when we used to have such night out morning breakfast routines. After the breakfast, we went to her dance sessions. She is a very good western style dancer. I waited for her dancing practice to get over and then we returned for a cup of coffee in the afternoon before leaving for home.
The following interaction with her on that day gave me two important lessons.
1. Creating the right story: On the next day, Sunday, there was alumni meet at my engineering institution. I was originally going there alone but while talking to her, I though why not take her along with me. I knew the program was such that in spite of not belonging to the alumni community, she would enjoy the program. The problem however was the way I asked her about the whole thing.
a. Firstly I myself was not exactly aware of the schedule of events to happen at that place. As a result, I could not explain to her why it would be worthwhile for her to come.
b. Secondly I could not create the right story for her to get convinced that she should come. In a way there was no value proposition for her from my side. Of course it can be argued that because I myself didn’t know about the program schedule, I could never have had created the right story anyway. While this is true, the other important question I ask myself is, would I have been able to present the story in the right words even if I actually knew what the program schedule was?
The result of course, she couldn’t find anything interesting for her and hence refused.
2. Being Proactive: In the night after reaching home, I researched more about the program, read the entire schedule and figured out the exact areas of interest for her. Still wanting her to come, I thought I should share the program schedule with her on email and explain to her in the night itself why she should join. Lazy old me, I deferred it to the next day. A mistake. In the morning when I called her to explain the benefits for her to come to the event, I found out that she had already made plans with some other people to go to some other place.
Feeling bad, I said to myself, if only I would have shared the program schedule with her via email the last night. If only I would have called her and explained the program event the last night, I would not have had to go all by myself.
The result, I did end up going with myself. (Although I still enjoyed the meet, but that’s another story.)
And these are the two key lessons I take away from this incident.
Lesson 1: When trying to convince someone of something, it is important to present things in the right way. For that, the prerequisite is I myself should know the right facts. The other important condition is to say the right words and create the right story. The story, which will make the other person understand what’s in it for them to spend their time, money or energy in it. Creating the right story also depends a lot on the person to whom the story is being told. Knowing the right facts needs research, creating the right story needs practice. Both are important to convince someone of your point of view.
Lesson 2: If something has to be done anyway, it is better to do it early rather than late. I unnecessarily waited till morning to share a schedule which could have been shared in the night only, and paid the price for it. It is of no use to delay what anyways need to be done. It would have certainly been better than the ‘If only’ questions I ended up asking myself.
It is better to be proactive than to be lazy. This it seems also comes with practice. Proactiveness is not an event, it is a habit. The more proactive you are, the more proactive you become.