Are you using time to your business advantage? We can save time, but we can't buy it; we can kill time and make time, but we can't go back or forward in time.
But we can use our time better if we think about it. Here are a three ways you can turn time to your business's advantage.
The Powerful Pause
You can make the so-called awkward pause your tool in business conversations. Most of us grow increasingly uncomfortable with silence in a meeting. We want to fill those pauses. But instead of filling the pause, consider using it to your advantage.
For example, imagine that you're a buyer in a sales pitch. The seller delivers pricing and terms. You pause. Silence swells. You wait. Quite often the seller will fill the notoriously awkward silence by lowering the price and sweetening the terms.
You haven't even said no yet. You seem to be thinking about it. But the dynamic around the pause may end up sweetening the deal for you.
I learned about the power of the pause while consulting for an American company in Japan. It turned out that there was a simple cultural difference that played out in favor of Japanese people negotiating with Americans. In our culture, the pause is uncomfortable. In Japan, it is often a sign of respect. The scene I suggest above played out often with Americans selling to Japanese people.
That was decades ago. That cross-cultural phenomenon may not even be still true today. However, whether that detail is still true or not, the pause can be very powerful when used well. Think how it could help you in negotiations and meetings. Those few seconds can be time well spent.
The Waiting Game
We all want to be decisive when it comes to making business decisions. But at times there are very good reasons to put a decision off for later.
1. When more information is coming later. It might be an upcoming sales conference, a meeting, next month's sales, results or input from somebody else. Having more information coming can be a good reason to wait on making a decision.
2. When there isn't a penalty for waiting. Since I started using this framework, I've been frequently surprised with how often we make decisions quickly when there is no penalty for waiting until later. That's more obvious when you know more information is coming. But even when you don't think more information is coming, if there's no penalty for waiting, you can wait. You might get information you hadn't expected—or maybe you get insight from your subconscious mind. You may have something to gain and nothing to lose.
3. When you have a gut instinct. It's the common-sense idea of “Let's sleep on it.” Sometimes decisions are better when you let them sit for a while. The quasi-scientific explanation might be letting the subconscious mind work on it.
The Slow Simmer
Do you ever turn to a recurring problem, get impatient, forget that there's a solution already underway and jump ahead with another new solution? I've done that more often than I want to admit. I end up not giving the first solution time to cook before jumping in with a second and even a third solution to the same problem.
Business ownership can be full of problems that take time to solve. You might be changing systems, developing software, remodeling space, looking for some new hire and so forth. Meanwhile, the problem reoccurs and frustration sets in. Very often you should take a step back, remind yourself that things are cooking, and wait until they are done.
That can be hard to do. As business owners, we want to solve problems. It's hard to wait for solutions that take time. Not waiting, however, can be inefficient and counterproductive. Clearly it's not efficient to throw a second or third solution to a single problem before the first has the time to work.
Quick isn't always better. Don't rush when patience can work better for your business—get time on your side.
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