This is nowhere near as hard as it sounds. Most professional service providers actually conform to a relatively common set of values: –
- Work hard and long hours: a big focus on hours worked
- Very focused on the here and now: pressing, proximate, deadlines
- Not enough time: stress
- Don’t really have a good deal of medium and long-term vision of their future: too busy
- More reactive than they would like: crisis, what crisis?
The combined effect of these drivers is that people do not have enough time to be different. Since differentiation takes time to develop and deploy the obvious conclusion is to make time and reinvest it in this very worthwhile activity.
I have no intention of looking at how to become more efficient here (try this for a few ideas http://wp.me/pY2x4-3R) but rather what you can do if you do happen to make an hour or two.
- Seek to understand before being understood – my favourite of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits and one that goes straight out of the window when you’re short of time.
- Give more praise than criticism – most of us assume we do this more than we actually do. Imagine you have a bottle of jelly beans for each person you interact with. Every time you praise them you put a bean in and every time you criticise you take a bean out. Make sure the jar never empties.
- Always have time – when somebody asks always make the time for them but if it looks like a longer job and you are busy then schedule a time to speak when you have more time.
- Deliver on your promises – obvious but when pushed for time easily forgotten. This is extremely important for the smaller promises surprisingly enough.
- Tell people what you like about them or what they are good at – this is incredibly powerful provided it is genuine.
So there you have it. Make some time and then use it to do simple (and yet frighteningly uncommon) things which will make you stand out from the crowd.
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