I also use a neat trick I call “identical differences.” It involves taking two words that many people assume mean approximately the same thing and differentiating them strongly, so that the other person says, “We’ve never considered that. We need you.”
Teams/Committees: These are entirely different structures, with the former requiring everyone to “win or lose” and the latter providing for some to win and some to lose. You can’t engage in “team building” with a committee.
Mentor/Coach: The former is reactive and situational, the latter is proactive and comprehensive. I can mentor a consultant, but no one has created the role of a baseball mentor for the team.
Preventive/Contingent: The first reduces the likelihood of a cause, the second attempts to minimize the effects of a problem. A sprinkler system is contingent, and so is an insurance policy. The fire marshal is preventive.
Problem/Decision: A problem requires a deviation from experienced performance with an unknown cause, and sufficient concern about it. A decision is a choice among options. Two entirely different starting points.
Oral/Verbal: “Verbal” communication is the usual umbrella for these, but that embraces everything to do with words. “Verbal” doesn’t mean “oral,” and it includes writing. These are two separate skills requiring two separate forms of development.
Strategy/Planning: The former is a picture of the future to which you aspire, the latter is an extrapolation of the present. Hence, “strategic planning” is an oxymoron, and a focus on planning will kill strategy.
You get the idea. You want the buyer to stop in place and consider the fact that this is “fresh air” and a new perspective, and needs to be heard and applied.
© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.