Dorothy and the suspect search consultant
On average, women use twice the number of words per day than men. Women maintain eye contact while speaking for twelve seconds vs. a man maintaining eye contact for three seconds. Women supply detail to build rapport , men speak directly in short sentences going straight for the bottom line, supplying detail as a necessary illustration to their focal points. Women need to deliver their story (as I am doing now , otherwise this post would be one sentence and how much fun would that be?) in order to get to their bottom line. We build relationships. Generally we don’t need solutions ( although perhaps exceptionally I like that) and we also need to be heard! A lot!
Communicating like a female: the story!
I was recently contracted to support an executive search consultant on a global project. He had worked for one of my major clients and had now set up his own business. In my female brain he was already someone I knew, so I didn’t make even rudimentary background enquiries before starting on the assignment. I know…I know ..big mistake.
Even the most basic research, which is something I carry out on a daily basis for other people and would certainly advise any coaching client to pursue, would have revealed a sub-text of erratic professional performance. This should have raised a number of brightly coloured red flags, complete with their poles. After some extremely inconsistent and suspect behaviour during the course of our collaboration, leaving me feeling profoundly uncomfortable, I realised that now he ran his own company, we actually had divergent business models and professional standards.
How did this even come about because as you know I’m not a shrinking violet ? After much reflection I finally wondered that it was possibly because he had always communicated with me in a female way! I was going to say like a woman, but was strongly reprimanded by Marion Chapsal. This is not a derogatory comment, but just a different style that we women seem to connect with.
My ex – associate , I suspect not unintentionally either, successfully focused on building a rapport with me over a long period, until I perceived him as a trusted contact and foolishly believed that we were in an ongoing business relationship – when actually this wasn’t the case at all! The relationship was with his previous company, so nothing concrete had been done to put him personally into that category. With 20/20 hindsight (what a gift!) I could see that in many of our networking chats over the years, initiated on the pretext of staying in touch, I had essentially provided a free consulting service. When in typical John Gray style my generosity wave came crashing down with the force of a tsunami ( I even coached him on Twitter!) I finally supplied a fee schedule.
Where are we now? He is MIA owing me a reasonably large some of money! Emails are bouncing, business addresses no longer exist, telephone numbers have been discontinued. He has even blocked me on Twitter (go figure… is there NO shame in this world? ) Lawyers and debt collectors have been consulted and a police report filed. But no doubt … I have been conned! It would appear that it’s illegal to smoke in a public place, put makeup on in the car while in a traffic jam (true… I was fined for such an act! ) – but it’s not illegal not to pay your bills.
The moral of the story is that all business relationships have to be scrutinised and thorough due diligence carried out, regrettably even with people you think you might know. My instincts are now sadly blurred. Today I’m going through a phase of viewing everyone with suspicion and caution. An acquaintance emailed me to ask me how I was doing and my first instinct was to wonder why they wanted to know. I even asked someone I normally work with on a basis of trust, to confirm a proposition in writing. Last week his word would have been sufficient. I know I will get over this reticence and revert to openness and trust, but perhaps not on the same level. It’s been an unpleasant lesson, but one I intend to learn from.
Is this all as much fun? No sadly it isn’t .
What do you think?