3 November 2020 by Marjoleine van Sinderen, 4c Unity
“My American colleague won’t give me the information I need. We are working in the same company”, says Stefan. “I am asked to support hardware, because a certain feature doesn’t work anymore. In order to do so, I asked for specifications. I kept on asking, but somehow my American colleague didn’t send the specifications. He just wants me to support quickly, because his client has a problem. I kept on asking and then he reacted irritated. Why?! If he would send me the specifications, I could help him faster”.
Why doesn’t he send me the specifications?! We are at a standstill.”
Marjoleine: “Are you sure that there are specifications?”
Stefan: “……”. “No specifications? That would be impossible! If that is the case, why didn’t he say so in the first place?!”
Marjoleine: “I see your point. Good question. Why didn’t he say so before? It would have saved you a lot of time. What could be the reason? Could it be that when his company was still an American company, before it became part of yours, speed in meeting customer demand was more important than following procedures? Is it possible that now it’s part of your company, this situation could be painful? Maybe he just wants to help his customer as quickly as possible because he is very service-minded? Perhaps he is not used to sharing, because he runs the risk of losing business or getting fired? Whatever it is, it is important to look at it from his side as well and try to understand it”.
Ask questions carefully
“If we look through our own cultural glasses, there is a risk that we don’t understand and disapprove. How can you find out if there are specifications or not without the other person losing face? Without asking too many (for them) direct and risky questions? Because this person is a person of flesh and blood, with a family and perhaps with loans. Let’s help him and his customer. Let’s help yourself”.
A week later. Stefan: “I’ve just found out this is unofficial hardware ….. Can you imagine?! In Germany this is inconceivable. I am shocked. Anyway, the hardware used to be compatible, but never formalized. And now it has to be supported with ad hoc software developments as a result…”
Marjoleine: “It is up to you (and your organization) to act flexible and maybe ad hoc or to convince your colleague of writing the requirements retroactively in order to have a solid long-term solution for his customer. Whatever you both think is the best thing to do. I will teach you to ask for information next time without losing so much time and energy. Thanks for sharing your case. You will help others with this.”
Eight free proposals
The case of Stefan resulted in a proposal worked out by 4c Unity, which is one of the eight free proposals that people get when they buy the online training Inspire & Convince Americans in addition to the resumes, checklists, workbooks, video’s with demonstration, and access to the online community. With this proposal, people who are in a similar situation know how to request information using the right proposal elements, the right order, the right arguments, expressing the value of sharing and creating a secure environment in which sharing with them is possible. They know how to respond to resistance. They know what to do when their American colleague says it is not his or her responsibility to share information, it’s their manager’s responsibility.
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