What a schema is and why top performers use them
Top executives I interact with have well developed Schemas for the variety of interactions, encounters, meetings and presentations that are involved in. Below is a description of schemas and how they can used:
• A schema is a pattern of thought that organizes experience.
• In our personal lives, for example, we have schemas for how to behave at a barbecue or at a parent-teacher meeting (eg, at a parent-teacher meeting, we know it usually will be a short meeting; We may sit at/near the child’s desk; The teacher talks about our child; We ask questions; At the end of the meeting we stand and take our leave).
• In business life, we have schemas for the varying types of interactions, encounters, meetings and presentations we’re involved in.
• Having clear schemas – in advance – for any type of interaction, encounter, meeting and presentation, and being able quickly translate that pattern of thought into behaviour will help you:
– project certainty, presence, poise and inspire others to have confidence in you
– predict the sequence of interplay between people. For example, you’ll be able to predict the type of responses/actions of other people.
• Here is a Recommended Schema Mindset and sample Word and Syntax for a chance encounter with an ‘A’ class executive/prospect etc. you haven’t met before. This interaction might occur in the lobby of an office building. (CAVEAT!: Adapt the below words and syntax to your style, and always practice the technique first in safe interactions.)
1. Schema Mindset:
a. ‘Attention > Reference > 30 seconds’
(That is, get the person’s Attention; Reference whom you are: Ask if the person has 30 seconds)
b. Body movement and speaking cadence: ‘Be quick but don’t hurry”.
(That is: Be definite in your movement toward the person and allow silent pause gaps in your speaking)
c. Manner, gaze and voice: ‘Project energy and certainty’.
(That is, fully face the person; make sure your voice is energetic, is easily heard; hold eye contact and smile).
2. Words and Syntax opening (please adapt wording and syntax to suit your style and always first practice in safe interactions!)
• You say, “ X (P-A-U-S-E) We haven’t met before – I’m Max Kelly, I work for PQR in Wealth Advisory
(P-A-U-S-E) do you have 30 seconds?”
If the person says ‘No’, say, “Fine, I’ll catch you at another time.”
If the person says ‘Yes’ either:
a. Ask a question that taps their insight/or ask for their advice.*
b. Pitch an idea and ask if you could send them an email about it.
c. Ask if you could contact their assistant (use the assistant’s name if you know it) to arrange a meeting.
3. Words and Syntax Open, middle and close
• You say, “ Max (P-A-U-S-E) We haven’t met before – I’m Max Kelly, I work for PQR in Wealth Advisory – do you have 30 seconds?”
• The person says, ‘Sure”
• You say: “You’re obviously a top performer (P-A-U-S-E) . . . What behavior or attitude have you used throughout your career, that’s paid off for you (P-A-U-S-E).and because it’s paid off for you, you continue to use it today? Could you chisel it down to one thing?”
• Once they respond, say thank you and take your leave.
(* Over time consider what thought-provoking questions you could ask senior executives. Insert them in an easily accessed section of your smart phone so you can refer to them at a moment’s notice).
You Call to action/How to apply for this post: Start developing, storing and sharpening the various Schemas that are most important to you in business.