January 21, 2010

News & Opinion: Hold Space for Other Perspectives - An Excerpt from The Triangle of Truth

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 7:26 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The following is an excerpt from Lisa Earle McLeod's The Triangle of Truth: The Surprisingly Simple Secret to Resolving Conflicts Large and Small, which was released earlier this month. McLeod describes the Triangle of Truth thus:
Instead of trying to compromise in the middle, or the more common scenario, fight about who's right and who's wrong, the Triangle of Truth provides a model for redirecting your energy. It points you towrd a solution at the top of the triangle that honors the truth on both sides.
It is the Buddha's middle path, the perfectly tuned guitar string, and as Lisa Earle McLeod explains below, a more sane approach to sales.


Hold Space for Other Perspectives Solving the Your Agenda Versus My Agenda Quagmire BY LISA EARLE MCLEOD

“At a certain point it gets to be about me, right?”

He was a seasoned salesperson who had been in the business for years, and when he asked me this question near the end of the seminar I was giving, I knew that he was struggling. It was a legitimate question. After spending the better part of two days practicing how to get inside the mind of the customer, and being constantly reminded by me, “This isn’t about you, this is about the customer,” the poor fellow was wondering if he was ever going to get to pitch his product. In his way of thinking, you could either organize your conversation around the customer’s world or you could talk about what you were trying to sell. He certainly saw the benefits of asking the customer questions and learning about their goals, to better frame up his point. But as he succinctly pointed out, “You’re there to sell them something. At a certain point the call is eventually going to have to be about that.” This was a smart, well-intentioned, nice guy who was trying to do right by his company, his customers, and also his family. However, like many of us, he believed that he had to choose between two agendas. It’s either going to be about me, or it’s going to be about you. We might go back and forth during the conversation, but at the end of the day, I need to accomplish something and I’m going to make sure I get it done. And that’s the quagmire. We often think, in fact we’re frequently told, that the most effective way to achieve our objectives is to single-mindedly focus on our goals. A goal orientation itself is not a bad thing. However, problems arise when we become so focused on our own goals that we don’t leave space for anyone else’s. We become so determined to get our way that we often alienate the very people we are trying to convince. How many times have you seen someone so eager to prove their point that nobody else stands a chance? Sometimes even people who agree with them are turned off when it becomes obvious that all they care about is getting their way. On the flip side, many of us have also experienced the frustration of being so accommodating to others that our own agenda is completely forgotten, which only breeds anger and resentment over time. The Triangle of Truth model provides a way for you to assimilate your agenda with the agenda of someone else, without losing sight of either person’s set of objectives. The Triangle model enables you to jettison the either/or thinking that causes us to focus exclusively on ourselves or to forgo our needs in favor of the other guy. The belief that we have to choose between our agenda and the other guy’s is a common problem. It’s reinforced by our culture and by political parties that stress beating the opponent more than actually solving the problems. By an educational system that expects teachers to pour mountains of information into their students’ heads without providing the time or space for the students to add their own thoughts. And by advertising campaigns that spin out sexy thirty-second pitches, encouraging us to buy something today before we have time to think about whether or not we really want or need it. Is it any surprise that the well-intended salesman is wondering when it’s going to be about him? Everywhere he turns he hears a one-way pitch from someone else. He might have spent two days in my seminar being taught how to ask questions and listen, but I guarantee you the majority of communication from his company is all about making quota and how great their products are. The idea that we have to choose between our agenda and someone else’s is reinforced at multiple levels, and it’s also the default setting of our own minds. But people who can rise above this tendency and think bigger than just their own agenda actually have more success accomplishing their goals.

Excerpted from TriangleofTruth by Lisa Earle Mcleod © 2010 by Lisa Earle Mcleod A PERIGREE BOOK Published by the Peguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved.

Author Bio Lisa Earle McLeod is an author, columnist, keynote speaker and business consultant. The founder and principal of McLeod & More, Inc, she specializes in sales and leadership training. Her newest book, The Triangle of Truth, has been cited as the blueprint for "how smart people can get better at everything." Visit for a short video intro.