Never address anyone by "Mr. so-and-so" except in a friendly joking well. First names mostly, last names in a bold way sometimes, and never by their title.
Everyone is a peer of yours.
No corporate speak, ever.
Never let yourself be intimidated. Intimidated people aren't fun to be around.
Keep it light.
Stay on topic -- it's really not fun having having people drift into nonsense and not getting important deliverables down. [*]
[*] I struggle with this sometimes. We all struggle with something. My mind goes on tangents, sometimes useful, sometimes not. I've been working on it a lot lately.
Make all your collateral focused on the buyer. Identify risks, yes. But make sure you leave them with a broad strong promise. Don't talk about yourself too much. Nobody cares.
Don't be too formal.
Do be professional.
Professional isn't accoutrement or nonsense. Professional is being focused on understanding the buyer and delivering the results they want.
Winning is fun.
NEVER bow and scrape. If you're a clear subordinate, people can't let their hair down. They have to keep up "authority mode." If you're true peers, you can relate as true peers and get an honest dialog going. People don't get honest dialogs going with subordinates. So, never bow and scrape. That's the biggest mistake new people make. Everyone's a peer. Keep it fun.
This post is accurate in a business context, but I would offer, as a footnote, that formality and decorum are important in a court room, public forum or when addressing law enforcement. This can be achieved without being stiff. By just using honorifics (Officer, Agent, Your Honor, Chairman, Mayor), one conveys a level of comfort, confidence and mastery of the process, while also recognizing the listener's station, and often gives the communicator an edge in the event of a close call. To conduct oneself otherwise in those situations can invite disaster.
There's truth and goodness to what you've said. In response to Sebastian: I think how successful you are with this strategy depends partly on with whom you're dealing. Different industries have different cultures.
Interesting post Sebastian.
However, I think what you are talking about is very far from being "universal," and seems rather ethno-centric. I mean, you have been all over Asia and are still living there if I'm correct. Therefore I'm sure you already know this (but perhaps forgot to mention it?), but in most Asian languages/cultures (and many other cultures around the world) it is simply unthinkable to address a person by their first name. And if you use their last name it needs to be used with an honorific title, there is simply no way to get around this. Even in Chinese you call a taxi driver or most general laborers as "sifu," which translates as "master" (i.e. somebody who is a master at their art/craft/etc.)
In East Asia, especially, there is a very clear distinction between different social status and people are very well aware of the place they occupy in the social hierarchy. I do not think anybody is a peer of everyone. What are your thoughts on this?
This might be something to do with the culture as well. I mean if I do as you say here in Turkey, I am sure to get nowhere as there is some sort of hidden cast system in the country. So, the success of the strategy depends on not only with whom but also where you are dealing. Near universal but not totally universal.
On the staying focused vs tangential thing. I find writing a bullet point agenda for a call, even if I don't share it with the other person, helps me stay on track and make sure all issues are addressed.
If an interesting tangential idea comes up putting it in a "parking lot" for later discussion is something that works well in face to face meetings when you write it down or put on a whiteboard. For phone meetings what if you do via gotomeeting and have a parking lot area in your notes for the meeting.
PS I agree that first name terms and being friendly are very important in business relationships. In my sales experience if you have good rapport with someone and they have need for what you do they will buy from you over a stranger. Even if the stranger's offering is better. People work with people they like. Being on first name terms is part of that.Having fun together is another.
I saw the article "Memoirs of a Bullied Kid" on the site Single Dad Laughing. It's written by a guy named Dan Pearce, and he seems like a hell of a guy. He's talking about raising his son, about accepting yourself, dealing with conflict, things like that. Pretty inspirational and good stuff.
The Memoirs of a Bullied Kid article must've taken a lot of guts to write, and I massively respect that. That said, I disagree with his conclusion on how to deal with violent bullies. So I want to send some praise and respect in his direction, but also some significant disagreement.
I originally wrote this as a comment for Hacker News, but it came out to about a normal post's length. Tone is more discussion site level than blog post level, but you'll get the gist of it -
"Son, as soon as someone puts their hands on you..."
This comment will be controversial, especially for North Americans and Western Europeans. I ask you to read it and think about it a moment before reacting, and comment if you disagree. I believe what I'm about to say is true, and I'm not trying to get a rise out of people - I want to fix some problems with society.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/brenopeck/271247073/ Peck, B. (2006)
As an undergraduate one of my majors was Cinema Television Studies. Even though my concentration was Screenwriting, which requires mostly imagination and not a lot of action I was required to take a few classes in production. These classes require you to create short films and work in teams as if you are a "crew." Being considered the leper of the film tracks (a lot of people saw the screenwriting concentration as a place for people who didn't get into the design or production tracks - I just wanted to write stories) I regularly was shoved into the position of line producer, script supervisor, or production designer so I wouldn't get my hands dirty with the "real filmmaking." What these aspiring "real filmmakers" failed to realize is that these are largely managerial and supervisory roles and the production can't move forward if these areas aren't taken care of.
What I regularly dreaded was trying to figure out how to lead a group of 20-something, laid-back, Californians who I was younger than and was seen as lower status due to my choice in focus. Yet, these were my classmates - my peers who I was forced into the role of managing.
The hardest part about managing these groups was that they didn't realize that my job was to manage them, because they always pushed the jobs I got onto someone else -they never knew what it took to get things done.