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The best tackle is one you don’t make

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12th November

English football fans love watching defenders tackle the opposition. They think it’s exciting, and see it as a sign of their player’s timing, dedication and skill.

However, one of the world’s most successful, skillful players – Spain’s Xabi Alonso – sees it very differently. He once told The Guardian newspaper "I can’t get it into my head that football development would educate tackling as a quality... How can that be a way of seeing the game? I just don’t understand football in those terms. Tackling is a [last] resort; and you will need it. But it isn’t a quality to aspire to”.

In effect, he thinks tackling is only necessary when a defender failed to pre-empt and remove the danger.

I think communication is like that. People always have concerns/objections about what you’re saying/proposing. The ultimate skill is not how you tackle it when they raise these concerns. Instead, it is how you pre-empt and remove them, so they’re never raised.

The secret here is to identify why people will say “no”, and stop it happening with a pre-emptive strike. For example…

When you know someone is worried about the time it will take to do what you’re asking them to do, say…

If I was you, I might be thinking that I don’t have time to do this. So, I’ve freed up space in all our diaries by… if we all embrace this, it will actually save us time

When selling a product that you think might sound too onerous for the customer…

Some of my most successful customers were originally concerned that this might be too hard to install. Is that the case with you?” [If they say ‘yes’. you then remove the concerns with pre-planned answers]

When you think people might want to delay your project, before they say so, pre-empt it with…

I was wondering whether we should delay this. But then I realised that we’d have bigger problems later if we did. In effect, by delaying it, we’d be saying “let’s not invest in a burglar alarm because we haven’t been burgled yet”. Clearly, this is not a good idea…

Just as the best defenders rarely need to make tackles, so too do the best persuaders rarely need to deal with objections. What can you do to remove them before they happen?

Action point

Using today’s Tip as a guide…

Some people think that this Tip is a good idea, but they don’t have the opportunity to do it today. They also know that, if they don’t do it today, they won’t ever do so.

If this sounds like you, why not make sure you use it today? Look at your diary and identify an opportunity where you have to convince somebody to do something today. Think of the reasons they’ll say “no” and pre-empt/remove them.

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