Later this month, I will be working with Caterpillar Inc in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa.

As part of the preparation for this trip, I’ve had to review all my slides, materials and the stories and anecdotes that I tell. Will the examples I share that work so well in Australia work as well on the other side of the world with people from Senegal to Switzerland?

Looking at the slide deck for my course there were three things that stood out.

While there wasn’t a bias towards male or female (I’d worked hard to remove this in the past) there was a bias towards a white audience. Being in Australia, historically it’s not surprising that this is present.
Looking for a bias is hard. By definition, we don’t realise we have a bias. We think that what we put forward is balanced to everyone, but it’s not usually – at least in the beginning
Removing bias makes for a better product. Removing the bias from my slides has forced me to think more deeply about my message, identify what I’m trying to achieve and look for another way to convey that message. Deeper thinking can only result in a better product.
Over the last few times that I have conducted the course, it has made for a better program. And this makes sense – after all Australia is a multicultural country.

What biases do you have?*

As always I’d love your thoughts on that here.




I love talking all things #behaviouralscience. People who engage me often start by reaching out to discuss issues they have with their teams and how they can increase their #influence and ability to #lead. If this is you, please feel free to send me a direct message. More than happy to have a chat or coffee next time I’m in your part of the world :)

*And before you say you don’t have any biases, if you’ve ever opened an email with ‘Hi Guys’ that is a bias right there.

#Leadership #relationships #bias

How to disarm the boss – and other tough encounters

I’m passionate about helping my clients manage encounters by understanding behavioural science. If you want to learn more about this, send me an email to

We’ve all been caught in tough situations. It may be that we have done the wrong thing, are being interrogated by the boss, or have to deal with that arch nemesis and don’t want them to get the better of us.

Behavioural science gives us a number of strategies that can give us the upper hand when dealing with those tough encounters.

Below are 5 strategies that you can use to alter the power dynamics when you’re caught in a pickle.

Mea Culpa. This seems an unusual tactic, but it is powerful. Fess-up that you did wrong and show that you have moved forward. As Aldous Huxley wrote in Brave New World, ‘Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”

The power of this tactic is that it completely nullifies the argument against you. It’s important to understand the psychology and behavioural science behind this.

When someone creates a case against you to show that you have done wrong they spend large amounts of mental energy rehearsing, practicing and predicting what will happen when they confront you. They come prepared for a fight and have strategies to combat your position, what you might do and what you might say. Rarely do they prepare for you to acknowledge that you are in the wrong.

This tactic can also frustrate. When the accuser has invested large amounts of time in preparing and you accept their argument they have in effect wasted their time.

When you agree with their position, any negative or emotional reaction on their behalf at the situation shows them to be weak and lacking in emotional control. When you can remain calm and in control when they are not you are in the stronger position.

Be light. Remaining light and open is a tactic that Malcolm Turnbull used often in interviews. A naturally charismatic leader, he had the ability to smile, open his body language and change the topic. In this interview with Leigh Sales on 7:30 he tried (unsuccessfully) to divert attention away from politically tricky questions, back to what he wanted to speak about. While it was not a complete success, it did reduce the intensity of the interview, and may very well have worked on someone less skilled and experienced than Sales.

Vulnerabilities. Similar to mea culpa above, admitting to your weaknesses can be a strength that allows you to control a situation.

In his book The Art of Seduction, author Robert Greene explains that when you admit your weaknesses you humanise your behaviour. This humanising of the behavior helps people lower their suspicion towards you and what you have done. This works particularly well when you are renowned for being strong, in control and certain of yourself. Once again, if your accuser is expecting you to fight, admitting your weakness can catch them off guard.

When you admit your weaknesses it causes others to reflect on their weaknesses – albeit momentarily – and question what they would do in a similar situation.

Humor. Humor is a great way to disarm. This is not about telling jokes, but rather finding the lighter side of any situation. It could be bringing together 2 unrelated ideas to create a third. When humor is injected to a situation it cannot help but lighten the mood.

A great example of this came earlier this year when Senators Mathias Cormann and Penny Wong were battling it out in Senate Estimates. Wong was questioning Cormann about leaks from the prime minister’s office when Cormann came up with the idea of the two of them hosting their own TV show. The result was the complete disarming of Wong and her line of questioning. This gave the power back to Cormann.

The strategies that you use in a tough situation will determine if you win or lose in the confrontation. Rarely does fighting back work and denying work. You just have to look at politicians to see this.

I’m passionate about helping my clients manage encounters by understanding behavioural science. If you want to learn more about this, send me an email to

As always, I’d love your thoughts on this here.



School Debating

Last week I had the pleasure of attending my daughter’s school debate. She was the first speaker for the Negative team on the topic. ‘That corporal punishment should be reintroduced to schools.’

The debate was close, and her team came out ahead :)

The moderator said that while both teams debated well, the reason why the negative team won was because of the stories and research.

Whereas the affirmative side included examples of why corporal punishment would be a good idea, they were unable to include any research in the form of facts and data to strengthen their argument. The negative team, however, were able to include stories and data to support their position and this got them over the line.

Logic and connection are required to capture both the left-brain (logic) and right-brain (connection) thinkers. Logic includes data, reasoning, and detail. Connection includes stories, relationships, and the bigger picture.

When you include both types of information it makes it easier for the audience to be persuaded by your message. It increases your influence and ultimately your ability to lead.

We each have a preference for one style or the other. The problem is being aware of it and ensuring that we include information styles from the other palate. When we can do this, our message appears to be more rounded, better thought through and more robust.

How balanced are your ideas?




PS. When you’re ready, here are two ways I can help:

Grab a free copy of Presentation Skills Tool Kit (E-book, White Paper)
Train your staff on how to give engaging presentations

Position Vacant – No Talent Required

The elements to succeed in any area of expertise are effort, energy and focus. To gain success you will be required to put your efforts into trying different ways to achieve your goal – you won’t succeed first time. You have to learn new things, try them out and see what works for you.

Energy is required to make this happen. You will put lots of effort into an endeavour only to see that it fails, or is not as successful as you had hoped. It takes energy to rebound, learn the lessons and refocus and keep going.

Finally, you need focus. You need to focus in one area to attain complete mastery. Without focus you just cannot reach the depth of understanding and knowledge that is required.

The one element that is not needed is talent. Relying on talent is for the lazy. It will get us out of the starting blocks, but does not carry us down the track.

Relying on talent prevents us from being all we can be. It makes us careless, causes us to look for short cuts and makes us believe that we have a God given right to succeed. Talent makes us believe that we don’t need to put in the effort, energy and focus required to succeed. Talent feeds our grandiosity delusion.

Iain Thorpe was described many times as a very talented swimmer. From the outside he appeared to be. But if you know anything about his success you will know that he got up and went swimming for hours every morning. He put his effort, energy and focus into achieving his 5 Olympic gold medals.

It is the same for those who will achieve success in 2019. They will have put the effort, energy and focus into developing these results.

At the end of this year will you have achieved all you can?

The position of Success is vacant. If you want you can fill it – no talent required.

As always, I’d love your thoughts on this here.



The problem with ‘do unto others’

The problem with the idea of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is that it makes one better than the other. It places your values above someone else’s, your preferences above someone else’s, your ideas above someone else’s. It says what I know is best and I will help you to conform to my way of being. It’s the Colonialists approach to the world.

A more attention out approach is to do unto others as they want to have done unto them.

Put what they want at the heart of what you do in relation to them. This stops the barriers going up between people and enables us to connect.

As always I’d appreciate your comments on this here.



The New Rules of Selling – How to Win people over

In the world of psychology, the concept of self-interest bias is useful in predicting behaviour. When all things are equal, we will take action to serve our self-interest over the interests of others. While this sounds obvious, many sales people overlook this and focus on their interests – what they want to sell – not what the customer needs help with.

Focusing on your own interests is at the heart of relationship. In essence it is about building a relationship so you can sell them something. The problem with this approach is there is no benefit to the customer.

When your sales person says, ‘If you come to us you’ll have a first rate relationship manager look after your account to get the best product, service and price’, what they hear is, ’Go through the headache of changing suppliers and end up with what my current supplier promises.’

Relationship selling is a fantastic lock-in strategy, but it’s a terrible get-in one.

Relationships will always be important, but in this time-poor, ultra-competitive, margin-squeezing world you need more. You have to offer something of value to first get in their diary and then win their business. This is the new way of winning people over.

At the simplest level, relationship selling is about being likeable. Be a nice person, offer great service to match your great product, and if you stuff up, fix it fast. To this end you’ve either got a strong relationship or a weak one. But if all sales people have strong relationships and a great product then there is no compelling reason for the customer to change. You’ll even find it difficult to get into their diary.

To go beyond the relationship you must offer some value. The easiest way to do this is to solve a problem.

Every business has problems. Their problems relate to production, distribution or a multitude of other areas. If you can help solve one of these problems you are seen as valuable. This gives them a reason to see you.

If you want to win a customer over, value is the new black. Value will win out over relationships every day when it comes to landing new business.

How Customers rate value and relationships

If the customer sees your rep as a likeable person, but does not think they offer value to their business they will dodge them. When your sales person calls asking for an appointment, the customer avoids committing. They state that it’s a busy time of year, but to call by anyway and if they have time they will see them. When customers do this they are keeping you as a second tier supplier to be used in time of emergency.

While this is not great, being liked and offering no value is still better than not being liked and not offering any value. Here the customer simply blocks the sales person. They ignore the calls, delete the e-mails and bin your brochures.

However, if your sales team leads with value they will have a much greater chance of getting an appointment.

Even if there is only a weak relationship, if your sales rep offers value the customer will permit your reps to come onsite. They will listen to the value they bring and decide if it is good for them. If they like what they see they may buy and the relationship can start to grow.

The most desirable place to be is where you offer value and have a great relationship with the customer. Here they want to see you. The signs that say ‘Reps will be seen on Tuesday by appointment only’ do not apply to your team as they offer value to their business.

To win customers to your business you need to focus on value. The relationship you offer is only important if they have a reason to want to see your reps. When they can identify the value your business offers there will be a reason for them to speak to you. It is from here that you can build the relationship to win them over.

As always, I’d love your thoughts on this here.



Darren Fleming is a speaker, author and trainer who helps sales people sell more at a greater margin. Drawing on his background in psychology he uses practical, down-to- earth and clean approach he shows his clients how to generate more sales from current and new clients. He is the author of Better Positioning, Deeper Conversations, More Sales. You can reach him at

Meetings: How to be memorable

Most people have a diary overflowing with meetings that were created weeks ago, and sometimes by others. If you’re a sales person trying to get into a prospect’s diary, try these tips to be memorable:

  1. Put your name first in the meeting subject. When their calendar only gives them the first 10 characters of the meeting subject they will see it’s with you. (If you put their name first they will see that they are at a meeting – der!)
  2. Use their time zone. When meeting online or planning trips interstate always speak in their timezone. It’s not up to them to know where you are!
  3. Send a meeting request via e-mail. This massively reduces the chances of someone else stealing the time slot from you.

It’s about focusing on them (and not yourself) and being easy to buy.

As always I’d love your thoughts on this here.

Your 2019* training needs

My diary is filling fast for 2019.  If you want to ensure your team have the skills to stay ahead of the competition contact me today and we can lock that training in. The three most common ways clients used my services in 2018 were:

  1. Sales training – helping sales teams sell by focusing on value
  2. Presentation skills training – stopping death by PowerPoint and ensuring clients and staff remember the message and take action
  3. Pitch preparation – The most important presentation in the workplace is the sales presentation. I help you stand out and stop boring clients with slides.

To lock your dates in for 2019, just send me a private message and let me know what you’d like and when. I’ll then call you to work out the details.



*We can even play with invoicing dates to fit around budgets if you need!

Right question in the wrong place is the wrong question

The ‘right question’ asked at the wrong time is no better than the wrong question asked at the right time.

On a recent trip to the optometrist, I was told I was going to need reading glasses. Now, to someone who has worn glasses full time since I was 18 this was like a bat to the face. Was I about to become one of those people who said, “I’ve left my reading glasses at home?”

Then the optometrist asked me the wrong question. He asked, “Have you been thinking of getting these as reading glasses or an update to your normal prescription?”

Up until that instant, I had not thought about reading glasses at all – except at how lucky I was that I didn’t need them!

But this is the question his sales script directed him to ask once the consult had finished. I know this as he asked the same question again a minute later.

That’s the problem with sales scripts – the customer always says the wrong thing which makes following your script hard.

You’re better to have a message and end goal you’re looking to get to and equipping your sales staff with the skills to make their own way there.

As always I’d love your thoughts on this here.



It’s not PC mad

When we hear that the world has gone PC mad, what does that mean?

Usually, it means we are no longer able to call people what we want – we have to take into account what they may think about the words we use.

I don’t think that is a bad thing.

As always, I’d love your thoughts on this here.



Flight 436, the scheduled 6:15 pm service to Melbourne will depart in 30 minutes. All passengers please proceed to the gate

I do a lot of flying – so do my colleagues – but we rarely know what flight number we are on. We know the destination we are going to and the time of departure – in that order. But the airlines talk to us via flight numbers, times and then destinations. They do this because it makes sense in their world and their systems.

But by the time we have heard the destination and start paying attention we have missed the important information (there are always multiple flights to destinations). This makes it harder for people to act.

If you want to influence, first speak the message your audience will hear, then share your message. Good marketers have been doing just that for years.

As always I’d like your thoughts on this here.



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