I've done a bit of
expert witnessing. When you
appear in court as an expert witness, you have a point of view and you express
it. Then you get cross-examined. During the cross-examination, you quickly see
what the opposing attorney is trying to get you to say, and the tendency as an
expert is to contest every one of the points he's trying to make. After all,
you're the expert, you've staked out your position, and he's attacking it. By
extension, he's attacking you.
But the first thing the attorneys on your side
will tell you is that if you do that, if you contest every one of his points,
you lose all credibility as an impartial expert. Now it's hardly a secret that
you're being paid big bucks by the side you're testifying for, and that the
reason you're getting that money is that—at least for the most part—you
agree with their position. The jury understands that. And if they don't, the
opposing attorney will be sure to point it out. You need to
make your best
possible case; you can be certain the other side will be making their best case.
But the more you appear to be an instrument of objective truth, granting the
other side their legitimate points, the more the points you make for your own
side will be believed.
As a salesperson—and at times each of us is a
salesperson—you should always present yourself as an expert witness. First,
you make your best possible case. If you are an advocate, you don't have to
pretend not to be. When I was selling, I’d go so far as to say, "Hey, I
don't want you to forget I work on commission. The more you spend the more I
make. Now I'm going explain why you need to be spending more and making me more
"Hey, I know it's in my self interest to support the
restructuring," you might imply or even say. "But that doesn't mean,
this isn't the best possible option for the corporation. And here's why."
You make your case, then you grant the
opposition—the doubting Thomas within the mind of each potential buyer—grant
that doubting Thomas his legitimate points. His legitimate points. Once
again, even as an advocate, the more you appear to be acting as an instrument of
objective truth, the more effective your points—the points you need to make to
make your case—will be.
a non-selling situation—when you're not an advocate—as matter of common
courtesy, effective people-skills and simply helping the other person get what
he or she wants, this expert witnessing technique works equally well.
Abraham Lincoln Syndrome: Motivating the Psychological Bully
Marshall Feinstein is a department head for a
large direct mail operation. His problem wasn't with his boss but with another
department head. "Barry, you talk about making you best case by telling—selling—the
whole story, making sure we get in all your most effective points during a
discussion. I'd like to see anyone try to do that with our director of
marketing. This guy is obviously too busy and too important to listen to anybody
else: and he has to make sure everybody knows that. I don't push him; he starts
pushing the minute I open my mouth. I never get the chance to make my points.
All I can do is push back or get run over."
"Does pushing back work?" I asked.
"It's the Abraham Lincoln Syndrome,"
The Abraham Lincoln Syndrome gets its
name from an incident that occurred off the coast of Newfoundland in October of
1995. Here's an actual transcript of a communication between the aircraft
carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln and Canadian authorities.
AMERICANS: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a
CANADIANS: Recommend you divert your course
15 degrees to the South to avoid collision.
AMERICANS: This is the captain of a U.S. Navy
ship. I say again, divert your course.
CANADIANS: No, I say again, you divert your course.
AMERICANS: This is the aircraft carrier, USS
Lincoln, the second largest aircraft carrier in the United States Atlantic
Fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous
support vessels. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north, or
countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
CANADIANS: This is a lighthouse . . . your
When the person you're dealing with refuses to let you go where you want
to go, divert your course. Start talking about whatever he insists on talking
about. Be the expert witness and grant him his legitimate points. Then come back
around and make your point a different way. In the course of the conversation
you can usually work in the information you need to deliver, making all the
points you need to make. You do need to tell—sell—the whole story. You need
to make sure none of your most important selling points are left out. But
smashing into lighthouses is not a successful navigational strategy—no matter
how pushy those lighthouses might be.
"My supervisor is the ultimate
bully," an accountant complained. "Management to him is intimidation.
It's either fight back or let him treat you like something he needs to scrape
off his shoe. Any psychologists who wants to understand why workers go postal
should spend a few days working for this guy."
witnessing is a particularly effective strategy for dealing with
bosses. Don't argue, expert witness. Grant his legitimate points, then make
yours. You'll not only maintain your self respect, ultimately you'll probably
earn his as well.
out more about Barry's
ground breaking book, No Lie: Truth Is the
Ultimate Sales Tool.
Maher speaks, consults and
writes on increasing productivity AND job
satisfaction, as well as motivation,
sales. His book,
the Glass: The Skeptic's Guide to Positive Thinking in Business was cited by
Today's Librarian magazine as "[One of] The Seven Essential Popular
Barry Maher, ©
Copyright 2013, 2009 Las Vegas, Nevada
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