Talk Lean - Alan Palmer

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Shorter Meetings. Quicker Results.Better Relations.


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    Talk LeanShorter Meetings. Quicker Results.BetterRelations.

    Alan H. PalmerCapstone 2013208 pages

    Rating9 Applicability7 Innovation7 Style8

    FocusLeadership & Management


    Sales & Marketing


    Human Resources

    IT, Production & Logistics

    Career & Self-Development

    Small Business

    Economics & Politics


    Global Business

    Concepts & Trends

    Take-Aways Talk lean by being simultaneously direct and polite.

    Save time in meetings by announcing your goals at the beginning.

    Business objectives are distinct from meeting objectives, which must be measurableand/or observable at the end of the meeting.

    Meetings always involve whats left unsaid that could be said and whats said that couldbe phrased differently.

    Unspoken content in any communication is made up of everything you and othersfail to say.

    Spoken words can be ambiguous. People may speak incompletely, imprecisely or plainuntruthfully.

    Become a better listener by writing down everything a speaker says during a meeting.

    Respond to speakers from your partners perspective (the him/her path), from yourown perspective (me) or by combining your perspective with your partners (us).

    When in doubt, ask.

    Do what you say and say what you do.

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  • Talk Lean getAbstract 2014 2of5



    getabstractWhat You Will LearnIn this summary, you will learn:r1) How to talk lean, 2) Why talking lean is more effective for meetings andconversations, and 3) How to handle nonverbal communication.

    getabstractReviewInternational trainer Alan H. Palmer bases his talking lean concept on the work of his mentor, Philippe de Lapoyade,founder of the Interactifs Discipline. This strategy helps people be more effective by speaking in a direct, concise andpolite way. Palmer, a former international advertising professional, expands on this approach. He explains how togain respect by asking for what you want or need. His suggestions cover common business and personal situations,including dealing with tardy employees or overbearing managers, gaining new clients, and running meetings. Hecautions readers not to use his examples as scripts, but to speak in language thats natural. getAbstract recommendsthis practical manual to managers, trainers, meeting organizers and anyone who would like to speak more directly.




    getabstractEmotion is the firstthing that gets inthe way of rigorouslistening. The second isanalysis.


    getabstractIdeally, as aconsequence of youropening, the otherperson will...leanforward and saysomething which,however phrased,means: Im listening!Tell me more.


    Politely to the PointTalking lean refers to how most people want you to speak to them. People like beingspoken to in a clear, straightforward, polite way, regardless of their relationship with thespeaker whether a supervisor, co-worker, relative, teacher or friend. Few people knowhow to speak concisely without seeming rude. Conversely, courteous people often fail toassert themselves, so they dont get what they need or want.

    Say that a financial adviser meets with a wealthy prospective client who was referred tohim by a current client, who is named John Smith. The adviser opens with, Well, firstof all thanks very much for agreeing to see me. Im delighted to be here. I was hopingtoday that we could at least get to know each other a bit and Ive also brought alongsome material describing some of our industry-leading products. This opening is polite butlong-winded. Instead, the adviser might say that he seeks, a clear understanding of what...[those of us at] XYZ Bank need to do to have a chance of getting a mandate to manageyour wealth, just as we do for Mr. Smith. Another option would be to say: Given JohnSmiths recommendation, Im approaching this meeting with confidence but not withcomplacency...And by the end of the hour we have in front of us, Id like us to have listedtogether the different projects you have in mind and your financial priorities. The adviserexplains he would use the information to develop a proposal. By the way, dont use any ofthese suggestions as scripts. Put them in your own language.

    In another example, a manager confronts a perpetually tardy employee by saying, I wasreally angry about what happened yesterday. Why on earth do you persist in arrivinglate...this is a problem. This opening is direct but not very nice. The chastised subordinatemay lash out in anger or give empty promises about doing better next time. Instead, themanager could have said, John, how can I be sure that I can count on your punctualityin the future without it leading to a confrontation between us? or John, Im determinedto resolve this issue once and for all, even if Im conscious of taking a hard line...Yourpunctuality at meetings is no longer negotiable. Now...what do we do? These alternativesaddress the issue without provocation.

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  • Talk Lean getAbstract 2014 3of5

    getabstractNot only are theparticipants in mostmeetings not sayingwhat theyre reallythinking, theyre notlistening properly toeach other either.


    getabstractWe avoid the explicitfor fear of being brutal,but its the implicitwhich is the truebrute.


    getabstractPiling up 10arguments one ontop of the other willdiminish your impact,not increase it.


    getabstractBeing effective alsomeans getting the resultquickly rather thanlaboriously.


    Starting MeetingsState your goals at the beginning of any meeting. Have a clear goal for each session andannounce it at the outset in a direct, nonconfrontational way. Every minute which passesat the beginning of a meeting before you announce your real intentions will generate eithersuspicion or caution.

    Dont hide behind a smoke screen of courtesy. Quickly revealing what you hope toaccomplish shows respect for your colleagues time. Begin at the end by defining theparameters of the outcome you want the meeting to produce.

    Business objectives are different from meeting objectives, which must be measurableand/or observable at the end of the meeting. Meeting objectives can tie to businessobjectives later. People usually get to know each other in a first meeting but they dontaccomplish business goals until subsequent meetings. The financial adviser above needs afirst meeting to determine his prospective clients needs before he could offer to managethe clients portfolio and before the client would ask to hire him.

    Once you announce your meeting objectives, understand that recipients may not understandthem, might not want to comply with them or might want to compromise them. At internalmeetings, some managers say their purpose is to transmit information without any otherobjective. Transmitting information and being sure of the other person receiving andunderstanding and knowing what to do with it are two different matters.

    During MeetingsMany leaders dont run meetings efficiently. People get bored and tune out when they feela meeting wastes their time. Some meetings may not be necessary; email or phone contactmight work as well or better. Meetings inevitably contain all the things which are leftunsaid in the meeting but which would serve its productivity if they were said; and all thethings that are said in the meeting but which get in the way of its productivity.

    Unspoken content consists of what you and others fail to say. Some people dont speakbecause they fear sounding rude. Others provide hints to their thoughts or emotionsthrough body language, posture or other nonverbal cues. When things are left unsaid,there will inevitably be ambiguity, missed opportunities and the potential for seriousmisunderstanding. And, much of what is said in meetings and conversations is saidincompletely, imprecisely or...untruthfully.

    People might say theyre interested in doing business with you when they have no intentionsof doing so. Im not interested becomes Well think about it. Or, I wont be gettingback to you... becomes Ill get back to you. People might use irony, sarcasm, rhetoricalquestions or other confusing verbal expressions that involve saying one thing but meaningsomething else.

    Poor listening compounds poor communication. Advice for becoming a better listeneris well meaning but often ineffective. Most business books discuss active listening listening with your full attention and not just hearing. Suggestions include adopting invitingbody language, repeating back what youve just heard, smiling, nodding enthusiastically,and the like. Actually, true listening involves hearing what was said, processing it andresponding appropriately. To become a better listener in meetings, take notes. Write downeverything speakers say in order to understand what they think is important, not what youthink is important. Writing will also inhibit your ability to think of a response. Many people

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  • Talk Lean getAbstract 2014 4of5

    getabstractBut whilst it may becommon practice to setobjectives for meetings,those objectives areoften defined in a waywhich is insufficientlyprecise to serve theproductivity of themeeting.


    getabstractIf writing down whatthe other person issaying prevents yourbrain from using thetime to analyze andformulate your nextresponse, so much thebetter.

    getabstract expressyourself one idea at atime; and then ask theother person what theythink of what youvejust said.


    getabstractIt is much morepowerful and seductiveto say to a potentialcustomer: I really wantto work with you thanto say Were hopingwe can possibly reacha mutually beneficialagreement.


    are so busy formulating a response that they dont listen with complete attention. Analyzingyour notes afterward also gives you more time to develop an appropriate response.

    Lets say youre having computer problems at work. You call the IT Help Desk and say,Im really frustrated because my computers connected to the router but I still cant accessthe Internet. Theres an exclamation mark on the connectivity bars at the bottom right-handcorner of the screen. Your technician responds by repeating exactly what youve said,obviously hearing you clearly, but frustratingly not offering a solution. A better responsewould be, Hearing your description of whats happening with the connectivity bars, Imconfident that I know what the problem is and that I can solve this pretty fast.

    Conversational PathsAmbiguity is a problem in meetings and in conversations. People react more strongly tonegative emotions and dont always process positive or neutral information. If your client,Jim, says to you, Ive been looking at your documentation. Its very interesting, but atfirst glance I think this is a little bit over-engineered for our needs. And officially all ourbudgets are frozen until the end of the year. What does that mean exactly? Interestingcould be positive or negative. And, does an unofficial budget contain any wiggle room?Does over-engineered mean the product is too complicated or is that code for appropriatebut too expensive?

    You and your colleagues will probably respond to Jim in one of three ways. You mightask why its over-engineered or you might argue that it does work for him. You mightacquiesce that you two are not a good match and he should go elsewhere. Instead, ask Jim forclarification. His answers will determine whether the door is open to future business. Yourebetter off knowing when the door is closed, so you dont waste time pursuing someone whois totally uninterested. To be more efficient, select one of these three conversation paths:

    1. You respond from the other persons point of view (him/her).2. You respond from your own internal point of view (me).3. You combine your own point of view with the other persons point of view and respond

    accordingly (him/her plus me equals us).

    The him/her path involves dealing with the other persons past actions. Usually, you askabout the immediate past, such as What did you mean by what you just said? or Whatled you to agree to see me today? The me path means outwardly expressing what youthink internally. Tell your conversation partner what you think, want or need. You mightsay, I want, Id like, I need or Hearing you say ABC, I tell myself that XYZ.

    The us path involves identifying or defining together with the other person a solution ora next step or developing another alternative. Examples include, What am I going to needto do so that you...? or Where do we go from here? You could even combine approachesas in the following me-plus-us example: Well, Jim, Im initially discouraged to hear yousay that you think the product is over-engineered (me). I still very much want us to be ableto do a deal together (me). What do I need to do with the product at the engineering levelfor you to be comfortable about the fit with your needs? (us).

    You get Jims message and you react to it, but you feel that there is still stuff which isunsaid and which you want to be said. Given that concern, you have three reasons to followthe him/her path. First, you understood his words, but not his motives. Second, you didntunderstand his words and need an explanation. Third, you understood his words, but you

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