Thursday, April 16, 2015

Soft skills, hard work

DSC00311 (1300x855)Crossing international boundaries, I always list my occupation as Scientist on entry cards.  It spurs good conversation with the border agents and reminds me of my roots bridging ideas and technology into products and services.

As an expat entrepreneur, though, days fill with many tasks outside of that mandate, and it always seems that there is more to learn. Some are logical and quantitative, like finance and regulatory, and just require finding capable help and delegating to them.  2015-04-17 11.58.35 (1300x975)Others are subjective and open-ended, like legal and contracts, requiring soft people skills and hard negotiating talent that can’t be outsourced.

This week filled with the latter tasks, difficult conversations about tangled topics.  Preparing with friends and mentors, I’m reminded to think things through beforehand, take the emotion out of it, don’t believe everything I think, and keep the negotiation in balance.

2015-04-17 12.02.14 (1300x973)Preparation, the High Road, and Patience aren’t always enough, though.  I was reminded of an article advocating a more accepting and constructive approaches to negotiations when the going gets frustrating:

  1. To remind myself that I don’t control others.
  2. To remind myself that other people can live their lives however they want.
  3. To see the good in them.
  4. To let go of an ideal that I have that’s causing the frustration.
  5. To see that when others are being difficult, they are having a hard time coping. And to empathize with this.
  6. To remember when I’ve had a hard time, when I struggled with change, when I’ve been frustrated.
  7. To do what I can to help them: to be of service, to listen, to make them feel heard, to make them feel accepted.

bildI see the good intent here, but I need to hear the same respect in return. Otherwise, it’s hard to hold the stance indefinitely.

And this week challenged me.  I likely achieved 80% adherence to my list of points and reminders on review.  Post mortem assessments with raadgevers en wezen focus on hard outcomes (accept reality, renew discussions, or reject proposals) and soft skills (listening, evaluating, and judging).  There are tough decisions still to come.

My mentors always reminded me, It’s only 10% science.

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