Imagine this: you get up in the morning, and you have a perfectly lovely breakfast with your favorite people/book/device, and on your way into work, you remember you have a team meeting. The first item on the agenda is how one of the projects you work on is behind a few weeks. You’ve worked well with everyone on the team before – what kind of purpose do you have? I’ve asked this question to thousands of people at this stage, and the vast majority will come up with something positive and healthy. They might say to “understand,” or “advise,” or “interpret,” or even “to console.”

I then pose this scenario: let’s imagine a guy has just found out, on the first day of the working week, from his assistant just 10 minutes before a progress update meeting is due to start, that his team has fallen behind on a project that’s close to his heart. He’s new at the company and is keen to make his mark. What kind of purpose might he have? Pretty much universally, the answers to this question are less positive, and include purposes such as “punish,” or “blame,” or “guilt,” or “save face,” or “to avoid recrimination.”

Returning to the first scenario, what if it hadn’t been such a great start to your day? Instead of a lovely breakfast with your favorite whatever, you woke up late, because you missed the alarm? What if one or more of the others on the team were irritating, or had thrown you under a bus last week? What if one of them insulted you before the meeting began? In front of your boss? What might your purpose have been in the team meeting? Would that really match the results you want? If you’re honest (and normal!), you’ll probably admit that your purpose in that scenario might not be one that you’d be quite as happy sharing with others. The chances are that in the meeting, in the moment, your purpose will have changed. It’s no longer the long-term, healthy purpose that gets us the long-term results we want, for ourselves, for others, for relationships. Instead it becomes a short-term purpose that, if we achieve it, will make us feel good for a few minutes – but does nothing to get us what we really care about.

The problem is that, in a HardTalk scenario, we often behave in a way almost guaranteed to achieve any purpose, other than the one we want…

If you want to find out how to achieve your purpose, read the full article – an excerpt from chapter 5 of The HardTalk Handbook – in Entrepreneur Middle East. You’ll also find out why Homer Simpson can be a troublemaker in a HardTalk scenario…

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