Darren Fleming is a speaker, trainer and mentor to senior leaders

There is no more simultaneously exciting and terrifying event in a practitioner’s day than a business development meeting. If this goes well, you’re the star, the next rainmaker. But if it goes poorly, where will your practice’s next new line of business come from? You go back to the office and keep looking for the next opportunity.

In the lead up to any business development meeting, it’s not uncommon for a full range of emotions to be experienced. Accompanying this are often thoughts of being not good enough, wanting someone else to do the meeting or giving up on your desire to make partner – all so you don’t have to do these meetings. These thoughts are exhausting and make it almost impossible to have a helpful mindset going into the meeting.

To get the right mindset is simply a matter of de-programming your current one

Rewrite your programming

It was Carl Jung, the great Swiss psychoanalyst, who said that until we make the unconscious conscious, it will continue to turn up in our life and we will simply call it fate. The unconscious that he was referring to is the mental programming we have about a situation. If you fear business development meetings, then you have some unhelpful programming about them within you. That may be why you are happy to sit in the background and not progress your career within the practice.

The good news is that there is a very easy way to undo the programming.

To get the right mindset for business development meetings is simply a matter of de-programming your current one. You can detect your mindset by what you experience in your body. Try this.

Sit in a chair and think of going into a meeting. What do you experience in your body? Do you feel an energetic sensation that could be called nervousness, or something similar? Perhaps it is an energetic sensation rising in your body from your stomach up to your chest. Perhaps you have a feeling of heaviness on your shoulders. It could be heat in your face, or coldness in your fingers and legs. It doesn’t matter what it is; just identify it. If you don’t feel anything, keep looking; the sensations are there, you’re just not aware of them.

If you’re constantly telling yourself that you are always nervous, how could you expect to change?

These energetic sensations are the indicators of your mindset. Now that we know what your mindset is, we can work to deprogramme it.

Meet the six ‘don’ts’

To deprogramme your mindset and allow a new one to be installed is a matter of doing nothing with the energetic sensations. Unfortunately, doing nothing can be harder than you think, so apply these six ‘don’ts’.

  1. Don’t label it. (‘I’m feeling nervous!’) Don’t label the energetic sensation as nervousness, fear, anxiety, excitement or anything else. When you use a label you introduce a whole host of other stories that are just not relevant to the situation. Do you really need to remind yourself of the last time you were nervous?
  2. Don’t own it. (‘I always feel this way about business development meetings!’) If you’re constantly telling yourself that you are always nervous, how could you expect to change?
  3. Don’t judge it. (‘I shouldn’t feel this way.’) The way you feel is based on programming inside you that you may not even be aware of. If you are unaware of it, how can you say it is right or wrong? This is denying the programming inside you.
  4. Don’t justify it. (‘This is important – I should be nervous!’) If something is important it does not mean you need to feel a certain way. It means you need to focus, make considered decisions, make sure you are correct. You can do this without feeling any set way.
  5. Don’t explain it. (‘I feel this way because…’) Explaining why you are experiencing something is only reinforcing the feeling and the related mindset.
  6. Don’t fight it. Just let it come up. As the old saying goes, what you resist persists. If you fight against the energetic sensation in your body you may suppress it, but it will be there again next time you have a business development meeting and you will have to go through the same process again.

When you apply the six ‘don’ts’, it frees you up to pay 100% close attention to the energetic sensation that you are experiencing in your body. When you do this, the sensations change and deactivate themselves. When they deactivate themselves you have made the unconscious conscious, and you no longer have to deal with them.

This process might only take a minute or two. It can be done in real time during the meeting, or at any other time before or after the meeting.

When you do this you will notice that your mindset about meetings will change. You’re not looking to make it a positive or exciting sensation; look for neutral. If it turns to something positive such as excitement, that’s fine. Just experience it as you would if it was an undesirable sensation. It will soon subside; nothing lasts forever.

More information

Read our special edition for SMPs, which includes a selection of articles on trends and developments affecting practitioners

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