March 17, 2011

how to refer someone

We often have opportunities to refer someone we know to someone else.

During a conversation, we realize that we know an individual who could be of assistance to our colleague or to their organization.

In that moment, we have a chance to create that individual for our colleague.  What we say will form their first impression of the individual.  It's a powerful position to be in. When you are in that situation, what do you do?

One approach is for you to tell your colleague everything that you know about the individual. Their strengths and their weaknesses.  From your experience, and your point of view.

Another approach is to focus on the person's strengths.  You are, after all, referring that person because you believe that they have value to offer.  Otherwise, why refer them?  By describing their attributes in terms of strengths, you leave your colleague with the opportunity to form their own perspective and impression of the individual.

As people, we tend to see whatever it is that we are looking for.  If we are told someone is 'outspoken', we will see evidence for that. It will take extra effort for us to view that characteristic differently.  However, if we are told someone is 'willing to be direct with you, and say what she thinks', instead, then that is what we will see.

The next time you are in a conversation and have an opportunity to refer another, see if you are following this approach.  The other great thing about it?  It feels better to build people up, than to tear them down.

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