Why even bother having a decent relationship with the auditee? There are a number of reasons why it is worth it to make friends with the auditee.
Friends help friends by:
- Getting the information they need
- Providing the resources they need: offices, desks, phones
- Responding to requests and phone calls promptly
- Disclosing significant information about their operations
- Connecting them to the people that can help them
- Inviting them to office celebrations
- Recommending hotels and places to eat
- Smiling at them warmly
- Letting them screw up occasionally
It is just a matter of when
Let me chat about that last bullet a bit. You are going to screw up—it is just a matter of when. (That sounds like a line out of a movie!)
But really, somewhere along the line, you are going to mess up something. It is just part of being human. And what friends do is allow you the occasional mistake.
A client who is your friend won’t take you to the cleaners because of an error. They will assume that you meant to do your best and let you live to see another day. Enemies, however, relish exploiting your weaknesses and mistakes.
The emotional bank account
Have you ever read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey? He describes the concept of the emotional bank account, and I like the concept quite a bit.
Stephen Covey says that when you meet someone, you start off with a moderate balance in your emotional bank account. Imagine that the other person gives you an automatic $100 in your emotional bank account. Over time, you either build on or deplete that bank account. If you have a long, trusting relationship with this person, your bank account becomes quite high.
The higher your bank account balance, the better able the account (the relationship) can tolerate missteps and mistakes.
For instance, let’s say your husband forgets to pick you up at the airport. Now, if you have been married for 20 years and this is the first time he ever did such a thing—and you know he has a million things on his mind and he is usually very gracious about such things—you will let his mistake slide. If, however, you have only been dating a new guy for 2 weeks and he leaves you stranded at the airport, your relationship is probably finished!
Auditors start at zero
What balance do auditors start with? Right—a zero or negative balance. You have no room to screw up UNLESS you start building that emotional bank account right away!
Every kindness and promise kept puts another dollar in the account and auditors must work especially hard to give themselves that breathing room created by a nice, puffy emotional account balance.
How do you build the emotional bank account?
- Make a promise, keep a promise. For example, when you tell them you will send them an update, send them an update! When you promise that the meeting will be over in 30 minutes, stand up and leave when 30 minutes has expired!
- Complement them in front of their boss or team
- Thank them for their time and effort over and over and over and over
- Forgive them when they make a mistake and make it clear you empathize with them
- Apologize immediately when you make a mistake and do not offer any excuses for your actions. A good apology contains only three statements, “I am sorry. I respect you. Please forgive me.”
- Stay completely transparent with them about your objectives and findings
- Don’t talk smack about anyone else on your team or theirs because they will now worry that you are going to talk smack about them as soon as their back is turned
- Keep the resources and things they give you in good order and return them in good shape
Those are just a few ideas; I’d love to hear more. Please write to me at email@example.com to share your techniques for building an emotional bank account with your auditee.
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