Guaranteed: A Winner Every Time

When I was a police officer, I was commonly asked by friends, family, and even strangers: "so what is the best way to get out of a traffic ticket?" Every officer gets prodded for information of this type by civilians--which is probably one reason why officers usually socialize among themselves. The answer to the ticket question is nothing. No approach is full-proof and will work in all situations. My tactic was usually to reverse the question and reply, "I can tell you with certainty the way to get cited every time--show the officer a bad attitude." This response is guaranteed to produce a "winning" ticket.

Continuing with how attitude can dictate results, I attended a testy meeting yesterday involving two parties pursuing similar projects in the same community. The guy I work with was asked to facilitate the discussion and try to gain common ground among the differing groups. Also in attendance were three elected officials and representatives from a couple of big dollar local foundations. My friend the facilitator did a masterful job in getting the sides to meet again and work together in developing the structure and specifics for a future study, but it was obvious that both sides parties not going to get along in the long-term.

During the meeting, leaders for both sides committed silly errors that weakened their bargaining positions. Rather than recommend successful approaches to obtaining funding, I would rather discuss guaranteed ways not to receive support for a project. Practiced effectively at yesterday's meeting, here are five bumbles to destroy your project idea:

Participate with arrogance : You know everything and the audience is stupid. Describe your plan with this in mind, forget any type of feasibility study, and present your implementation plan. It is ok to admit that your data is not backed by any empirical studies, but you should portray anecdotal information as fact. When others suggest potential reviewers for the concept, accuse them of trying to stall the project.

Embarrass a funding source representative: Discuss the development of your plan and state that it has been hindered by those waffling foundations who committed to funding your idea but then retracted that support without explanation. This is most effective when directors of the funding source are seated across a table from you and are too shocked to respond even after you offer a finger-point for emphasis.

Interrupt frequently: Interrupt individuals speaking who are considered to be powerful. Injecting your disruptive discourse with phrases such as “that is not true” or “you are misleading” will certainly result in some red-faced participants.

Note: The Navajos have a tradition that out of respect for the person speaking, the listener is not only expected to not interrupt, but will wait several long moments after a person has finished talking to make sure they are really done speaking. Now that approach is something worthy of universal consideration.

Refuse to apologize: If accused of not meeting expectations, saying you are sorry is silly. Admitting your mistake is a sign of weakness; even when chastised in an open forum by the public official that provided you with the $30,000 in tax-payer funds.

Stubbornly Refuse Compromise: When the foundation of your proposal has been turned to sand, do not budge on your concept design; even if all of the funders are in favor of alternate approaches. You should continue to argue your approach and even create facts on the spot in attempt to bolster your position. Failing to realize that your original idea is not workable is essential of this approach.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. Proverbs 23:15.

Following advice and listening seems to be in short supply in my world. In sum, attitude impacts results whether you are stopped on the highway by a traffic enforcement officer or attempting to convince high rollers that your project is worthy of their funding and support. A bad attitude guarantees that you will be a "winner" every time.