Coaching
Take your competitor / enemy to lunch

BY DENNIS O’NEILL

Yes, you do put yourself at risk. Possibly you could give away information without knowing. You need to key your mind and mouth to be careful about what you say.

Preparation
At the same time, you have the chance to craft your questions with care. Those key questions can get you back vital info, much greater than anything you might give away.

Strategy
The strategy rests on getting rid of any animosity or ill will. You don’t need to make the person a bosom buddy. Just clear the table of malice and under-handedness.
What do you want to find out? Decide. You do want to discern their motivation and possible harmful actions. You then have a hope of deflecting or diffusing any unnecessary serious actions. What else?

Questions
Spend time on your questions. Check each word. Ensure that you have them in the right sequence. Scatter them through the conversation as best you can so the other person feels they were just the logical flow of conversation. With your agenda pains takingly worked out, you will come away with a ton of insight and information about the other guy.
There may be areas where you identify common interests. You can offer good suggestions that would help them in those areas.

Trust
With your suggestions, you are now hopefully building a bridge of trust. Perhaps you will agree to have lunch or coffee another time or several times. Maybe even on a regular basis. In non-competitive areas, you may even be able to function as a "mentor" to the competitor. Strange things can happen when you offer an olive branch. And your competitor may function as a "mentor" to you in certain areas once trust is built. You may even identify common interests outside of business.

First step
All you have to do is pick up the phone. Invite your competitor to lunch. If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it. I have usually found it satisfying and productive. BL

Dennis O’Neill, The Business Growth Coach is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake. For more information on how to grow your business, please call 905.641.8777, email dennis@dennisoneillcoach.com or visit www.dennisoneillcoach.com.