What to Do when a “Data Junkie” Is Under the Gun — So You Don’t Find It Pointed at You

Ron was one of my clients at the Financial Relations Board, where I did investor communications. He was the chairman and CEO of a company that manufactured pumps and valves. His background was in engineering.

I remember reading an article at the time that said most people won’t raise more than four objections to any new ideas you propose.

Ron wasn’t most people. He was an analyzer.

During meetings, I’d watch his people present new approaches to him. Ron would ask them question after question, drilling down to the smallest detail. And if he got to one they couldn’t answer, he’d tell them, “When you find out, let me know.”

Most of them were happy to evaporate from the conference room and leave no trace. And those who were left rarely made suggestions to Ron.

But I knew our communications with investors would stagnate if we just kept doing the same things. So I continued to pitch him on different messages or strategies.

He’d listen, shake his head, and say, “You’re trying to get me to do something new again, aren’t you, Ms. Franklin?” Both of us were a bit exasperated.

One day I looked at him, sitting in the same chair he always used at the conference room table — no matter how many people were there. I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers and went for it.

“Ron, I’m putting you on the three-year plan. That means I’m going to introduce cutting edge ideas to you — ones I know there’s no way you’ll agree to. Then I’ll keep you posted on them as three years go by and they move from ‘early adopter’ to ‘best practice.’ Once we reach that point, you’ll have heard about them often enough, and all your competitors will be using them. That’s when I expect you to say ‘yes’ and we’ll do them.”

Ron smiled. And it worked.

Here’s more about analyzers and how they react to stress.

Yes: when we’re feeling stress — from our own fears or situations like a looming deadline –we move into our “backup behavior.” The qualities that often are our strengths become the things that annoy everyone else with a different personality style. For analyzers:

  • Caution is perceived as being indecisive or not wanting to take any action
  • Being precise shows up as cold, formal and reserved
  • Questioning others appears as being suspicious or impossible to satisfy

Use the tactics in the video to help analyzers avoid being mired in Zeno’s Paradox: that any movement in any direction is just an illusion. And if you’re an analyzer:

  1. Notice your level of discomfort and know this affects you
  2. Understand that others aren’t as interested in details so are less likely to bring as many as you like
  3. Don’t punish them for this
  4. Know they’ll tune you out if you get mired in minutia so focus on the most important data points

Want a refresher on how to work with these folks:

(My mistake: in the video I refer to “regulators” when I should have said “drivers.” I hope you agree: done is better than perfect!)