I Wish I Hadn't Said That

Last Updated Jun 1, 2008 7:23 PM EDT

Last week I was talking to a friend who was suffering a high degree of angst. She had a particularly large --- pots of money --- potential project on the cards for which she'd recently submitted a detailed and time-consuming written proposal.

Many hoops had been jumped through, and there were many late nights and pizza dinners at the desk. But there was more to justify her attachment to this proposal than the simple fact she'd put a great deal of sweat and tears into its preparation.

My client had been told the reason she needed to drop everything and compile her response rapido was that timing for sign-off was critical as a Board of Directors meeting was looming.

She was assured response would be swift and most likely favourable.

You've guessed it. Here we were three weeks later and not so much as a thank you from her prospect.

Emails and phone messages went totally ignored, leaving the frenzy of briefing, cajoling and hoop jumping completely unacknowledged.

My friend was not a happy bunny. So what did she intend to do about it? Well, in the style of many a confident consultant, she had written an email --- but not yet sent it --- that tore a strip or two off the client. It wasn't rude, but it did make clear her disappointment and it was obviously from someone who was very attached to the issue.

I asked her to give me all the reasons she thought she hadn't received a response. Her reasons went something like this:

  • I'm too expensive
  • I'm not good enough
  • I'm not a good fit
  • The project has been cancelled
  • They've found someone else
Notice anything missing? Next I asked that she give other reasons, this time only ones with a positive spin. She responded with:
  • The board has yet to make a decision
  • I'm such a good fit, they've moved to other priorities knowing this one is sorted
  • My contact is away for some reason and simply unable to respond ... and so on. A bit different wouldn't you say? Once she'd written these down she thought twice about sending the snotty email and instead wrote something friendly, professional and non-threatening.
Just as well, as she had the project confirmed the very next morning.
  • Robert Gerrish

    Robert Gerrish is a coach, author and professional speaker and the founder of Flying Solo (www.flyingsolo.com.au), the Australian online community for solo business owners.