I went to a very important meeting today. It was important in many ways; of course it would have an impact on my own personal empire building (yes, I am being ironic), but it also would have a bearing on several other small to medium businesses. Not only that, I knew it was going to have a huge impact on the way I do business generally. Because if this meeting were successful, it would pave the way for the type of work relationships I have only dreamed of having in the past, and which I have long wanted to make a reality.
First things first however. First, I had to face some serious fears – and step back in time to my Oroton days.
I was, essentially (and this is not an insult by any means), bearding a lion in their den. This was about meeting someone who was quite rightly feeling jaded by bad business practice, and was waiting for a similarly slick spiel for little return. This was a person of experience, and knowledge, and a fair amount of corporate wisdom, who deserved respect and some serious active listening. They were, in animal kingdom terms, marking their territory. They were showing that they were the leader of the pack, and I needed to appreciate that and not to dismiss it as posturing.
As women of worth, it is essential that whilst we are respectful of other people’s positions, we also need to not be antelopes and run wildly away across the veldt at the first sign of a rumbling from Mufasa. How many times have you felt under attack in a meeting, and whilst thinking to yourself ‘but…’ or ‘that’s incorrect’ – haven’t held your ground, even though you have done your research and know you have your information well and truly in hand?
It’s the first rule of the jungle. Trust your instinct. Stay your ground. Don’t get pushed into fight or flight – there is no need for animosity; you can have heated and passionate discussion without vitriol or personal jabs. If you engage at the right level, keep key findings relevant, and don’t back down over the right points, you will be persuasive and make people want to work with you, irrespective of their original position.
At the end of the day, there is only one dominant lion in a pack. But there are several very, very strong lionesses. And after today, I am lucky enough to be working collaboratively, and openly, and transparently, with some of the strongest ones I know. It breaks every business rule in the book, and I can’t wait to get started.
And it’s because I opened my mouth… and roared. But politely.