In poker, players play the same hand differently depending on the personality of those they’re playing against. The same is true in business; to get the advantage in a negotiation or to win over supervisors and co-workers, you need to customize your actions for the people you’re working with.
That’s something Ariel learned the hard way. She had gone to work for a small company after being employed by a corporate giant for ten years. After about a month at her new job, she was asked to put together a marketing plan to relaunch a product. Her boss asked her to have it done in four days. Ariel was at a loss. She used to have two months and a big staff to help her undertake such a plan, and she wasn’t sure how she would get it done.
She finally put together a detailed plan and scheduled two hours with the CEO and the team to review. The day of the meeting, she began the presentation as she would have at her old company, with a very detailed analysis of what was happening in the marketplace. She spoke for about five minutes before the CEO interrupted her and asked what she had planned for the next three years. But Ariel had about 10 more slides to review before she got there.
Unfortunately, her boss had a short attention span and stopped listening. He told her again: he was only interested in the three year plan, not the details. She fast-forwarded over her pages of supporting documentation pages that represented many hours of hard work. Her boss thanked her and left the room. Ariel was pissed off that she had spent all that time working on a presentation that her boss did not have the courtesy to sit through.
Ariel made a mistake common to beginner poker players; she played her hand without understanding the motivations of the other player.
If you assume everyone at the table has the same needs and desires, then you may lose when you should have been the winner.
At her previous job, where quantity and thoroughness were valued, it was common to spend hours reviewing a plan. She didn’t think to consider that her new boss might want something entirely different.
The next time Ariel was asked for a marketing plan, she knew just what to do. The presentation was short and to the point, and the meeting was over in 15 minutes. Her boss loved every minute.