100 Ways to Succeed #2:


Was editing a trainer’s manual, replete with suggested dialogue, for a friend today. Good stuff! (Content: A+) But one “small” thing caught my attention. Most of the scripts for trainers addressing their charges read like this: “I [Trainer] suggest that you [Client/Student] approach the Objection as follows …” What’s my problem? Simple. I/trainer am the Subject, the teller of truth. And the Student/Client is the Object, the recipient of my pearls of wisdom.


Here’s the Big Word I want us to obsess on in today’s Tip: WE! (And: US!)

Here, for example, is my re-write of the above script: “We often hear the following Objection blah blah blah. What if it weren’t an objection at all? What if it provides us with an Opportunity to get our oar in about this blah blah blah [product benefit, say] …” Note, obviously, in my rewrite the three uses of “we” and “us.” From long experience, I suggest that this changes the Fundamental Nature of Community-Interaction between the Instructor and the Student. Instead of being an imparter-of-knowledge to the Unwashed, I/trainer am now a fellow-toiler-in-the-trenches hunting for a fruitful solution to “our” shared dilemma. Right?

Student and teacher are now—via Pronoun Power!—engaged in a Joint Venture toward Excellence. (Or some such.)

This trick (more on who gets “tricked” in a moment) was taught me by my first McKinsey partner-mentor back in 1974. “Tom,” he said, none too gently, “when you address the Client, never fail to use the word ‘We.’ As in “The way we might get at this blah blah blah.’ The idea is it’s us and the Client foraging mightily as a Team in hot pursuit of the truth.”

I’ll be the first to admit that this is indeed a “trick.” But beginning in those McKinsey days, I contend that it was me who was mostly tricked! I used “we” and “us” enough … and I began to feel I was on the Client’s Team, not vice versa.

To this day, 30 years later, by instinct, I religiously use “We” and “Us”—and a team of wild horses could not elicit “I” or “You.”

It is a trick … and it is a Fundamental Value concerning Groups on Joint Ventures in Quest of Better Understanding.

We agree, right?

NB #1: Also observe, Trick #2, the “religious” capitalization of Client. Another McKinsey fruit that makes a big difference to me.

NB #2: Back to yesterday’s Tip on cleanliness. I mentioned in passing, regarding Team Tidy, “sparkling restrooms.” I simply want to underscore the idea … worthy of status as 1 of my 100, in fact. There’s no greater giveaway to the I CARE (or don’t) query than the status of the Restroom. Movie theater, gas station, McDonald’s, $75-an-entrée restaurant … check out the Restroom. “Messy” gets a C-. “Dirty” gets a D. “Foul” gets an F. (I’d guess 70% of Restrooms get a D or F in my experience.) Give a B- to a “clean” Restroom. And a B+ to a “squeaky clean” Restroom. And reserve the rare A/A+ for the squeaky clean Restroom that becomes “an experience” in and of itself. Great furnishings! Flowers! A (Great) chair in which to take a 30-second respite! Etc.

Tom Peters posted this on September 21, 2004, in Success Tips.
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