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What Business Folk Can Learn From Presidential Debates

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When I used to work with politicians in the UK (two of whom are now in the current Cabinet!!) we concentrated on message and presentation. Specifically, I would spend time looking at how they might be perceived by the electorate.

One of the most important elements was that their speeches had to include an element of "I feel your pain," "I know what it's like to be you," "I've been there, I've done it."

Now this is politics and -- no surprises -- we are seeing the exact same approach in politicians today. Obama appeals to his base with comments like "The Millionaires and Billionaires should pay their fair share."

His audience nods and says, "That's what we were thinking."

Romney talks about his business experience appealing to his base with discussion on the importance of business and its ability to create jobs.

His audience nods and says, "That's what we were thinking."

This basic approach to campaigning is the A of my L-WAR: Listen, Watch, Anticipate, React. It is the anticipate phase. These candidates are guessing what the voters want next and they are saying it first.

The "Anticipate" phase is about putting yourself in your target's shoes -- seeing the world from their point of view and then articulating it in such a way that the recipient of your message can see that you truly understand them.

In business, of course, we are not trying to win an election. However we are trying to win deals, new jobs, pay-rises, and contracts.

Being able to show that you genuinely understand your client, your colleague, or your boss puts you in a very favourable light. It creates the impression that you are already a trusted partner. You are clearly connected enough to to be that key adviser -- someone with whom work will be smooth and successful.

So, this week -- pay special attention to what you "guess" are the future needs of your target. You know their world, you understand their issues, you have listened and watched -- so now look ahead and solve their challenges ... before they even know they have them!!

Listen, Watch, Anticipate...then React!

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