Five P-words for perfect positioning
What’s your position on positioning?
The word ‘positioning’ is one that we hear a lot and that, when push-comes-to-shove, few people really are able to define.I define positioning, in everyday language, as putting things in the right place for people.In a place that’s useful for them and, at the same time, is useful and helpful for you.
If you think about positioning a picture at home, for example, you’re placing it where it’s accessible and can be seen, it looks good in the light and yet it fits with the décor of the room.You think about the angles and you position it accordingly. Positioning your skills, what they do and your value, it’s the same principle, writes Kay White, of communications and mentoring consultancy Way Forward Solutions.
People need to understand what you’re going to be able to do for them, find a use for it in their world (not just in yours), and these five P-words which will make positioning yourself, your skills and your value easy for you:
- Partner – your thinking comes from the angle of partnering with your client, your colleague, your boss. How you can help and support them with what they’re trying to achieve. An easy question to ask to get this clear for yourself is ‘what’s your biggest challenge at the moment?’You, as their partner, helping to solve or master this immediately positions you as someone on their side and not just someone ‘out to get ahead’. Using words like ‘we, together, our, your’ positions you in a partnership role and using their language, their abbreviations, their interests as examples, you become their partner. Subtle and simple.
- Powers – from the word go, you’ve thought about your own particular skill set. Of course you have. What it is you do naturally and easily and you’ve asked other people about it – literally, that question. ‘What is it that I seem to do naturally and easily?’ and then you own those skills. They’re part of your power. Your ‘Jedi skills’ if you will. Once you’ve jotted down some of your natural skills you then make them super-powerful. Look at those skills and ask yourself ‘What do those skills do for other people?’ For example a skill is “I’m great with numbers”. Well, whoopy do. What does that do? Positioning that as valuable is being able to then say, for example “I can see angles where clients are losing money and help them stop it and save thousands per month.” Same thing, good with numbers, huge difference in positioning the value .
- Possible – if you’re positioning your skills, always come from the angle of what’s possible. Not, as so many people do, what’s impossible. “Well, I can do XYZ but I can’t do ABC” or “well I only learnt that recently so I can’t do it very well”. Of course you don’t over blow what you can do but what you do is really hone in and focus on what you can do and – if you’ve got gaps – focus on what you can do about them “and I can learn that” or “and we can immediately bring in someone to fix that” – always angling your nose to the ‘what’s possible’ with what you’re offering, what you’re able to do. Let people ask you questions, avoid laying it all out there with your fears about your gaps. You can fill them or find out how to.
Poise – that quiet, inner
composure that gives people a sense of you without you ‘hosing them down’
with facts, compliments and information. It’s something we all
strive for at times. When you’re seeking to attract business,
clients, an employer – to make an impression, to be remembered and
understood and to do it in a way that means you’re engaging too, is to
hold yourself upright, to offer a firm handshake, to smile and connect
and, at the same time, know that if what you’re offering isn’t a fit in
this instance, it will be somewhere else. That inner composure, inner
resolve gives you poise.Just like in the dating game, the subtle
dance isn’t about being proposed to on the first date, it’s more about a
drink, a chat and then deciding if you both want to have dinner!
- Present – listen and keep listening, bounce back what you’ve heard, question what you’ve heard in a curious way. Stay present. That voice – the one we all have – that’s saying things like “oh, what are you going to say now?” or “whoopee, I can fix that” – a powerful way you can quieten that voice is by repeating what the person is saying to you in your head. What you find is you have to stay present with them and as you do you’ll naturally find, when the gap’s there, you’re able to fit what you want to say about your own skills, thoughts, offer right in. Rather than racing off to ‘fix’, you stay in their world – so rather than ‘pick me, pick me’ it becomes more ‘hmm, I hear you, I think we could come up with something together. How about….’
If you use that word ‘position’ as you prepare for your meetings, interviews, presentations you’ll always be more valuable and interesting than the ‘gung-ho’, seat-of-my-pants kind of person who goes in thinking all about what they want, what’s going on with them and ‘what’s in it for me?’ and tries to ram that home.
John Kotter, a Professor at Harvard Business School and prolific author, says it perfectly (another P word): “Great communicators have an appreciation for positioning. They understand the people they’re trying to reach and what they can and can’t hear. They send their message in through an open door rather than trying to push it through a wall.”
Article reproduced with permission of Kay White, a communications expert and mentor at www.wayforwardsolutions.com . Kay shows professionals how to get quicker more profitable results and build stronger connections by becoming a more effective, influential and savvy communicator. Kay’s first book, The A to Z of Being Understood is a Number 1 Amazon Bestseller for Customer Service.
26th October 2011