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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Let go of your musts,oughts & shoulds

"I didn't know we were allowed to do that in business" was someone's response when I suggested during a coaching session that they share how they were feeling as part of a negotiation with a supplier.

It's a response I often get when I'm suggesting coachees or training attendees tap into their inner potential and do something I think will be effective at shifting the current challenge they're facing, but just so happens to be a part of being human too - for example kindness, not game playing, saying it as it is, showing gratitude, not leaving their humanity at the entrance, and so on.

Yes, these are often derided as soft and fluffy, and they're also what being human is all about - unless of course this collage already represents reality.
Asked to simple be themselves at work and trust in their inner potential feels like a stretch to many people.

I know it's hard - I really do. Having asked on LinkedIn for suggestions for topics for my posts I've had a great response. I'm can also feel the expectation weighing heavy, and the need to please, succeed and be congratulated rising, and yes I also fear the negative responses I might get!

As a result I can feel a desire to make the unconventional more conventional! Despite their unconventional nature being the reason they work!

Yet it's these feelings that if I'm not careful will mean you get a very inauthentic post. Feelings that will also get in the way of you understanding what I'm writing too. Feelings that may also get in the way of the efficacy of the tools I'm using being fully demonstrated.

Which is where letting go of the musts, oughts, shoulds comes from.

That is, we can use so much energy and our heads become so full of searching for "how should I act", "what ought I to say", or "what must I do" that the idea gets lost. It's too easy to translate what's in our head into how we think it should, ought or must be communicated, and lose the essence of the message, and lose the essence of who we are at the same time.

I talk and write often about amending our communication to suit the preferences of your audience - it's essential to improve understanding. That's not the same as changing the message.

For example if I'm frustrated with a supplier I could choose to tell them using a variety of words depending on their personality and our relationship:
  • I'm feeling very frustrated because of x or y
  • When I hear about x or y I get very frustrated because I thought ....  
  • Can I share something with you because otherwise I think it will get in the way of our relationship going forward.. 
The musts, oughts, and shoulds would be getting in the way if we avoid sharing the frustration, or assume the reason for our frustration have validity, or if we believe that sharing how we're feeling is too vulnerable resulting in:
  • You need to sort x or y out
  • Just do z - now
  • You have a problem - sort it!
Last year when suppliers accused procurement of being like wolves that's what they were suggesting procurement were doing: walking into work and putting their wolf masks on - taping into a stereotype of how procurement should, must or ought to act and doing that. Rather than listening to that quiet voice inside that knows precisely what do if only we thought we could do it.  

Over the next few weeks, possibly months as the list increases, I'm going to be writing blogs sharing the use of unconventional tools to get a different perspective to common procurement challenges. For it to work it requires that we both let go of some musts, oughts, and shoulds:
  • My oughts, shoulds and musts are about letting go of what I think you want to hear and trust in the tools I use - many for over 20 years.
  • Your oughts, shoulds, and musts are about what you think would or wouldn't work in business, or within your organisation and with your team - to give the processes the benefit of the doubt and explore the options that emerge. 
  • Both of us's musts, oughts and shoulds associated with assumptions and judgements about what we already think the solution is.
Image result for bruce lee glass of water quote
It also requires us both to understand what's stopping us from making the changes we say we want to make -  more here on what that might be.

If we both commit to taking the necessary actions then who knows what opportunities to resolve the challenges we're facing might emerge.

I look forward to exploring together how to unlock your personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach 
Unlocking personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools

Hypertext links take you to blogs on the subject highlighted.

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