One of the most important skills of a successful business person is that of effective redirection. There are often times in which a client or employee is focused on a topic that is counter-productive to the subject at hand. It is during such situations in which the skillful business professional artfully redirects the focus in the proper direction.
Some have mastered redirection into an art form while others have significantly damaged their careers as a result of their poorly executed redirection. Many may view redirection as simply that of changing the subject. Unfortunately, there lies the risk. To merely change the subject implies that the subject is not important. However, by virtue of the subject ever being brought up signifies that it was important to someone.
Therefore, to simply change the subject is to project that you do not view the subject as important regardless of how the employee or client feels. Thus, simply changing the subject can be perceived as offensive (or at least insensitive). As a result of such emotions, business relationships are often put in jeopardy.
Effective redirection should be a seamless transition. It should not be forced and often will transition using a keyword or phrase. When done effectively, the individual will feel acknowledged and reflect positively on the conversation with an active participant. If done poorly, the individual will often feel ignored, minimized or resentful – depending on the individual this could forever change the dynamics of the business relationship.
So with the level of risk so great, why would one want to engage in this technique? The answer is simple…..time and tone. When dealing with clients, time is often limited. Appointments are frequently scheduled for a finite period of time. Therefore if a large portion of the allotted time is spent on a discussion topic that is not relative to the purpose of the meeting, the meeting could potentially end before you had the opportunity to achieve your objective and/or bring value to your client.
In addition, conversations that typically require a certain level of redirection often have a negative tone (whether it is a client or an employee). It is healthy for people to vent. It is human nature for people to also focus on the negative elements so it is important that the person’s concerns be acknowledged. But, it is imperative that negativity not monopolize the conversation……..Thus, redirecting the conversation/focus into a more positive direction or topic. Upon reflection of the conversation, there should be a sense of positivity versus negativity.
It must be remembered that effective redirection is not an inherited skill but one that must be refined. Those overly confident, often fail miserably at some point. The skillful professionals frequently practice through the exercise of role-playing with peers. Early in my career, I would practice with my wife – which quite frankly if she were a client I would have never received any more business. Needless to say……a wife is often more forgiving than a client.
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.