Guest Commentary by Marketing Mgr. Tim Herrell, Commonwealth Financial Advisors,LLC.

“Years ago when I was very young,” recalls Jon Taffer, the host of TV show “Bar Rescue” and a former business owner, in a recent interview, “a VP of Hyatt looked at me and said, ‘You look, but you don’t see.'” Taffer took that advice to heart. He learned to look not just at the big picture, but also at every place setting, light fixture, and customer exchange. “See every crack, every detail. I learned to really see and not just look at my business,” he says. That was how he became successful.

Obviously this is advice we can all use, professionally and personally. It speaks to us to pay attention to details that could help us to avoid pitfalls, to learn from the mistakes from others. Observing people and situations is important so as to notice subtle cues during conversations, presentations, and anywhere else you may need to react gracefully and with tact.

Unfortunately, we are so much in a hurry to get things done that most of us simply don’t pay that level of attention to our surroundings. We need to slow down. We need to develop ‘situational awareness’. If we don’t train ourselves to pay attention to detail we can completely miss small clues that could have tipped us off to a much larger story.

The tricky part of this, of course, is reconciling what we observe with our own biases and prejudices, and to that end, most are guilty. If you find yourself in the presence of someone shabbily dressed wearing a dirty ball cap, speaking with a southern accent, and staring at you through bleary eyes, you may make certain conclusions. That sort partial-biased analysis can be worse than none at all. Simply noticing his class ring could have tipped you off that he may be a highly-educated professional. The fresh grass stains on otherwise new tennis shoes may have told you that he is dressed like that because he just finished mowing the grass. His sneezing in to a handkerchief could imply that he isn’t high but suffers from bad allergies and has the good graces to carry a handkerchief. In other words, jumping to half-baked conclusions can easily lose you good partnering opportunities, cost a great networking chance, or even miss out hiring what would be an awesome employee.

When all else fails, there is always the Scientific Method. As you may remember from High School, The Scientific Method requires us to observe and ask questions. Questions lead to hypotheses. Hypotheses are tested through experimentation. Only then can you properly analyze the data, draw conclusions, and share results.

Just never forget. At the same time you are evaluating someone, they are just as busy evaluating you.

 

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