Preparation breeds confidence. Confidence reduces stress. Reduced stress allows us to think clearly, perform better and achieve more.
High stakes interactions force you to juggle multiple cognitive tasks. Internally, you have to balance your fears, goals and motivations and think on the fly. Emotions such as fear, nervousness, and defensiveness can significantly limit your ability to handle these cognitive tasks. Simultaneously, you have external tasks you need to complete as well. You have to decipher our counterparts’ fears, goals and motivations and evaluating their verbal and non-verbal responses. All this new information needs to be integrated into your strategy to help you reach your goals.
Preparation is often viewed as a nuisance, an antiquated requirement or a waste of time. Yes, we are all busy. Yes, we all have things we would rather be doing. The question we have to ask ourselves is how much is the end goal worth to us? The best athletes are the ones who prepare the hardest. The best actors and actresses are the ones who prepare hardest for their roles. Look at any professional and most of the time it will be preparation that separates the most successful from the rest of the pack. We can’t afford not to create the time to prepare properly.
We should use our preparation time to consider and document our goals, motivations, fears and alternatives. We should also consider our counterpart’s goals, motivations fears and alternatives. We need to anticipate any potential roadblocks we may encounter and prepare our responses in advance. We also need to put careful thought into any logistics involved, including dates, times, locations and participants. If time allows, we should rehearse as well. The greater the level of preparation the more we will be able to control, or at the very least, influence any interaction.
When we have practiced and prepared for virtually any eventuality we are calm and confident during the interaction. The confidence allows us to breathe slower, keeps our heart rate down and helps us to think with more clarity. This clarity of thought allows us to recognize opportunities we may have missed and achieve better results. Stress is not the sickness, it is a symptom. The sickness is the lack of preparation. It is easy to find excuses not to prepare. It is not always easy to live with the results.
Michael Reddington, CFI is an executive resource, the president of InQuasive, Inc. and the creator of the Disciplined Listening Method. He teaches leaders from all industries and specialties how to apply strategic, ethical persuasion techniques in all of their conversations. To learn more contact Michael directly at +1 (704) 256-7116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.