The other day I was having coffee at Starbucks.
Actually I wasn’t having coffee, I was having hot chocolate with whipped cream. And it wasn’t Starbucks, but another coffee shop.
So I’m drinking my hot chocolate and I noticed something unexpected. Hot chocolate running down my chin.
Now I’m not typically a sloppy eater or drinker.
But there it was. Hot chocolate running down the cup and down my chin.
Why was this happening?
I was curious.
So I checked the lid, seeing if it was seated correctly. It was. I drank again. And it still ran down my cup.
“What the heck was it?” I wondered.
Then I saw it. It hit me. Out of the blue.
It was a crease. A crease on the coffee cup.
I wondered to myself, “Could that crease be causing the drip?”
Sure enough it was.
The crease was causing a very small gap between the lid and the cup – that a small drip of hot chocolate could get through and slowly dribble down my cup.
It was small enough that my bottom lip couldn’t complete the seal and prevent it from sneaking through.
So how can I prevent it?
I tried re-seating the lid multiple ways, but it just wouldn’t create a tight enough seal. So that was out.
And then it hit me.
What if I turned the crease to the opposite side of the coffee cup? To the side where no liquid was touching it and therefore it wouldn’t slide through.
So I twisted the crease on the coffee cup to the back and moved the spout of the lid to the front.
Voila! It worked.
Isn’t that often how it goes? In work and in life. The little things make all the difference and how something is framed also makes a difference.
“So? What does this have to do with me?” You might be asking.
The other day I was having a conversation with someone I was helping prepare for job interviews.
He found himself getting nervous before the interview and then getting tongue-tied during the interview conversation.
Which is curious because he didn’t have that same challenge talking to me or talking to people at work.
It was only when he was trying to craft a response on-the-fly that he started to stumble and trip over his words.
Why was this?
It was because he was overthinking it. Thinking about himself and how his response needed to be just right or he loses out on the job.
So he comes across as nervous and I’m sure that wouldn’t help him show off his best side in the interview.
So we tackled the issue head-on.
I started him off retelling the story how he got into the business in the first place. He picked a situation where he had made a difference and where he could see himself back in that situation again rather than telling it as a third person.
Like magic, his nervousness went away. His story was compelling and interesting. And I couldn’t sense any nervousness when he retold it.
One little thing. Focusing on the situation that he’d actually lived before, rather than having to create an imaginary one. And by doing that it took his mind off of himself and being self-conscious. It was as if he was there helping out a software user to create a better experience. Which made retelling the story super easy. And the story was interesting too.
And looking back, he was surprised at how the nervousness had gone away with his retelling of that one story.
Is there something you’re struggling with?
Could the solution be something really simple like a crease on a coffee cup or a new way of retelling a story?