7. Dec, 2016

The Owl

I’d been warned to expect someone who doesn’t display much humour; someone who is cautious around strangers; someone who doesn’t take things at face value; someone who doesn’t believe in single answers and seeks solutions based on a balance of consequence. Get past this, however, and she is an excellent customer.

From this description, I anticipated meeting a Cool / Asker. I therefore, needed to be sure of my technical abilities or take someone along who possessed them.

Arriving ten minutes ahead of our scheduled meeting allowed me to compose myself. Sure enough at precisely three minutes to our appointment; her secretary led me to her office, knocked and entered ahead of me. She introduced Mrs Cool / Asker to me, rather than me to her, giving me the impression I had entered a Headmistress Study.

Her office was tidy and business-like with a monitor and a Smart Tablet on her desk. A large logistics chart was on the wall adjacent to her. She was dressed formally wearing a crisp blouse under a sombre jacket. She stood as I entered the room. With a perfunctory smile she said, “Good morning” and, “Please take a seat” indicating with her hand for me to use the chair next to her desk. She then seemed to wait for me to open the conversation.

Her demeanour within this almost ‘clinical’ environment, confirmed my expectation that she was a Cool / Asker. Recognising this I had to keep my emotions in check. I had to stick to the facts to gain her confidence in my abilities or I might as well leave now.

Curiously, the Cool / Asker may appear assertive even though they are not naturally so. They gain their authority by following the rules, the protocols and procedures. They seek to comply and expect others to do the same.

Expecting a meeting with a Cool / Asker, I had emailed an outline agenda in advance and referring to it I opened by thanking her for seeing me stating today would take no longer than the allotted time unless she thought to extend it.

As I was speaking I removed two copies of that agenda from my case offering her one. I asked if anything should be added or amended. Receiving it without comment she produced her own copy for comparison. I said nothing. 

It read:           

Meeting with Mrs Cool/Asker

1025am Monday 3rd August, Olympia Buildings

 

1

Introduction of/background to my company (5 minutes)

2

My experience and credentials (3 minutes)

3

Published background on Mrs C company (5 minutes)

4

The facts about my company’s services (discuss)

5

Suggest services that may be of specific interest (Mrs C approval)

6

Arrange a working agenda to explore

6a

Where are you now?

6b

Where do you want to be?

6c

What are the different methods of getting there?

6d

Which are the most appropriate methods to commence? 

After a few moments of contemplation, she expressed almost indifferent satisfaction that this might be an appropriate agenda but mentioned item number six had yet to be discussed.

Hard evidence carries more weight with the Cool / Asker who remains suspicious of hearsay or anecdote. So, I’d brought copies of my formal qualifications plus two copies of my company’s service brochure, having revised its layout and memorised the page numbers to each main section. I had also researched her business through the Internet. If asked I could state their mission statement; what their principal markets are; what gross turnover they had achieved for the most recently audited years; how many people are employed; and, who their chief competitors are.

I anticipated no real decisions would be made during this meeting other than whether we would meet again. The Cool / Asker must concede possible areas of concern before they have any interest in going further and everything, but everything must be submitted in writing prior to each meeting.

For meeting number two, I would forward a second agenda building on the first, with a copy of documents for discussion and allow two hours. For meeting number three, another agenda with a copy of preliminary report capturing items discussed from meeting two; another two hours. For meeting number four, I would forward the final agenda with an itemised report of the agreed areas of concern with alternative solutions to explore, set against a calendar for submission together with explanatory charts and supporting documentation; two more hours.

The pure Cool / Asker is very high maintenance and moves towards resolutions sequentially. They can, however, yield extraordinary volumes of business directly and through professional introductions. Yet, most people can’t or won’t invest sufficient time to work with them on their terms.

After we had agreed procedures and the sequence of our meetings, I asked if I could show her a model that outlined the four areas of my work. She agreed. I then asked, “What is your attitude towards ...?