Entrepreneurs have shared with me that as their business Spotlight grows and they get more Visible in the marketplace, they are being approached by significant others, coaches, leaders, friends, etc., and being put on the defensive. They often refer to this as being “bullied,” that they are being questioned about their approach and their unique point-of-view – and frankly these people are not happy for them.
It got me thinking about the difference between bullying and business tactics. My entire adult life I worked in an industry that practiced not-so-nice business tactics daily. And I was mentored by my bosses to recognize a business tactic immediately so that I could strategically deal with the situation quickly. It’s not about the kind of personal attacks you think of as “schoolyard bullying,” but about fear-based tactics people use to give them power or influence over another person so they can get the results they want.
I believe that, on the whole, entrepreneurs are not taught nor programmed to recognize business tactics. Therefore, they get side-swiped when one or several come down the pipeline. This is harmful to their personal and professional brand.
I’m going to share with you three business tactics that I feel are the most common and the WHY behind each tactic, in hopes that it might illuminate you and help you identify a not-so-nice business tactic when you see one.
Rather than pick up the phone and have a two-way conversation, a person will send an IM or email with content that puts the other person – you – on the defensive. And when you ask to have a two-way conversation, the person continues to only communicate via IM or email. This tactic is a way of wearing you down and not giving you a “voice.” Instead, they want to keep you on the defensive which leads to a fear model. And that is exactly what the tactic is meant to do. When we are in a fear model we don’t make smart choices. We can get very reactionary, and the person hopes we’ll make a choice in their favor or that they’ll get what they want from us.
Rather than pick up the phone and have a two-way conversation, a person will send an email or letter with unsolicited “feedback.” The tactic is to use “feedback” to shame or guilt you. It is a tactic to get your goat so that you will react emotionally because you feel shamed and on the defensive. Typically the letter will come in a form of “this is coming from my heart” wink wink. Again not giving you a “voice” nor the option to have a two-way conversation.
Rather than pick up the phone and have a two-way conversation, a person will reach out to a close friend of the person of topic (let’s say, you) with the pretense that they have something very important to share with that friend. The person then will share in “secret” their concerns, etc., always with the pretense that your friend is never to mention this to you and that it must remain a secret. This is the oldest tactic in the book. It is a way of putting a wedge between two people – in other words, dividing the herd. To weaken the tribe members. Secrets are the most dangerous of all tactics because they immediately cause mistrust. The person who is being slandered by the tactic doesn’t know exactly what has happened but senses it, which causes even more distrust and misunderstanding. This is a common tactic and it is used to manipulate and destroy the unit from the inside out.
Being aware is empowering, and recognizing a tactic will help. Life is not The Wizard of Oz but it is important that we all pull back the red curtain. And having the tools and techniques to fiercely protect our personal and professional brand is vital. I encourage you to disconnect when you see one or multiple tactics coming down the pipeline. I also encourage you to pick up the phone and have a two-way conversation.
Brand Director, Creative Producer, Author & International Speaker
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