When it comes to facilities leadership, challenges are guaranteed, workplace technology is non-negotiable and going to the C-Suite for support is inevitable. But there’s a right and wrong way to ask for help. And one is significantly more powerful at yielding positive results than the other.
As parents know all too well, whining never wins. If your young child asks you to buy them something and you decline, crying, complaining, pouting and general negativity surely follow. But as children often learn over time, this reaction doesn’t do them any favors. In fact, it probably makes you commit even more strongly to your original response.
Keep this in mind the next time you encounter challenges at work that requires a chat with C-Suite for funds. It’s easier than you think to come off as a whiner — especially if you feel entitled to a solution.
Here is some advice on how to talk to C-Suite about your workspace needs and win their support:
Your crossed arms and clenched jaw say more than you think. So before you speak with your seniors, take a moment to look in the mirror. This is particularly helpful if the problem has you emotionally charged because practice will allow you to subdue any tenseness and angry facial expressions.
Your goal is to get them to understand and empathize with the problem, trust in your recommendations and prioritize the issue for timely funding. A relaxed, confident and knowledgeable demeanor will accomplish this. A nervous, defensive, agitated disposition probably won’t.
Pro Insight: Brief 10-minute meditations will teach you how to be an observer of your thoughts and body language. Develop this skill to deal with negative responses inwardly instead of thoughtlessly reacting outwardly.
Few moves are as detrimental to your goal as over-eagerness and disrupting other speakers. Also, don’t compromise listening and engaging in thoughtful conversation to formulate your next turn of phrase. When it’s time for executive feedback, really listen and take a moment after they finish speaking if you need to collect your thoughts.
The C-Suite is business-minded, which means your points must align with specific business outcomes. Consider how the problem impacts productivity, overhead, customer satisfaction and overall market stance. Speak to these priorities, and you’ll send a clear message to the C-Suite that you understand their vision for success.
Put your bottom line up front. What’s the first thing a child does when they want something? They divulge every imaginable detail that supports their case and leave the grand “ask” for last to prevent their parents from saying “no” right away. The C-Suite will see this as a waste of their time. Be direct, state your purpose up front and support it with workplace data.
Emotional intelligence is “the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
This is an incredibly powerful skill to have because it allows you to see a problem from someone else’s perspective, and position your case for resolution so that it connects well with varying points of view. How can you bring emotional intellect to the C-Suite conversation?
The bottom line is, you don’t need to be an expert mind reader to approach the C-Suite in a way that will earn you a solution to your concerns. By following the five suggestions above, you can increase your chances of having your wishes granted.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.
Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.