Timing is very important.
Daniel Pink wrote about the importance of timing in his excellent book "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing."
As Daniel Pink points out, there are tons of books on how-to but very few on when-to. In his book, Pink throws a lot of science at you. In this post, I will throw some literature at you to show the importance of timing.
Timing is important, but your approach is also important; hence, there are two parts to success: when-to and how-to. You could do everything right, but you are likely to fail if it does not take place at the right time. But if you get the timing right, then how-to may not be that important. But you don't want to wing it either just because you got the timing right.
Ideally, you want to get both when-to and how-to right when you want something.
In this post, I am going to use an example from a modern classic novel. I will look at the situation James Stevens, a butler at Darlington Hall, finds himself in the book "Remains of the Day" written by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Since we deal with this situation occasionally, I will present the example as situation, problem, solution, outcome, and lessons learned.
A butler named James Stevens has a new employer of Darlington Hall, Mr. John Farraday. Farraday suggests to Stevens to get out of Darlington Hall and take a journey in his car from the countryside of England to the West Country. Farraday will cover the cost of the gas.
While Stevens is thinking about it, he receives a letter from a former housekeeper named Miss Sarah Kenton. Stevens reads in the letter's content that Miss Kenton may be open to coming back to her old job at Darlington Hall. He also learned that Miss Kenton resides in the countryside where Farraday suggested he take a trip.
Stevens wants to bring this up with Farraday that he will travel to the countryside. He also wants to bring up whether Farraday would cover the cost of lodging, meals, and snacks. Furthermore, Stevens also has a professional reason to make the trip.
How to bring this up with Mr. Farraday? Stevens wants to make the trip and would like to hire Miss Kenton if she is interested.
Stevens is thinking about the timing. If the timing is not right and Farraday says "No," then Stevens believes it would be difficult to bring it up again. Stevens has concluded that it is one and done.
He decided that he will bring it up during the afternoon tea. This was the right time. Stevens got the when-to figured out.
Stevens was right on the timing but was off on the how-to. He did not work on that part right which bothered him.
It did not go as he expected.
Stevens did not take into account that Mr. Farraday likes to banter at that time of the day. Stevens mentioned that a former housekeeper resides where he was planning to travel.
The conversation went in a different direction than he anticipated. Stevens realized he made a mistake bringing up Miss Kenton before explaining the situation first and the need to hire an additional staff member.
Farraday commented, "My, my, Stevens. A lady-friend. And at your age.'
Stevens did not want to make a second mistake by saying anything more.
Timing is important. But how-to is also important. Stevens gets an "A" for timing but an "F" for his approach.
What should he have done?
Stevens could have done the how-to it as Lisa Earle McCloud writes in her blog post on LinkedIn titled "How To Get People To Buy Into Your Ideas." In the post, she recommends you do it in the following order: context, framing, and content.
Context -- Present the situation.
Framing -- Help someone understand the situation better.
Content -- Show how to address the situation.
Stevens could have done it as follows:
Context -- Increase in workload at Darlington Hall
Framing -- Need to hire an additional staff member
Content -- Explore whether Miss Kenton would be interested in coming back as a housekeeper when he travels to the countryside
That is how he would have liked to present it, but it didn't matter. In his case, the timing was more important than the approach since he did the smart thing by not saying anything during Farraday's bantering about Stevens mentioning Miss Kenton.
But this is literature, and it worked out for Stevens.
Here is a situation many encounter: When and how to ask for a raise?
First, when is the best time to bring it up?
Second, how do you do it?
Context -- Department was not closing a lot of deals before you joined
Framing -- Department closing more deals after you joined
Content -- Salary raise is justified based on performance
In real life, you want to focus on both when-to and how-to if you want to increase your chances of success.
I am an author, speaker, career success coach. I guide people thrive on high stakes stage whether it's for a job interview, career advancement, a sales presentation or a high-stakes speech. I am the author of a practical book on speaking titled Winning Speech Moments: How to Achieve Your Objective with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. The main idea of the book is that if you want people to remember your speech and take action, you must create a winning speech moment. Please download the free speech checklist I created that I always use to create a winning speech for any occasion.
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