There is one thing that will help you have better business meetings every time and in almost any circumstances. Of course you will prepare yourself, and you will have clear meeting objectives. But results depend also on your counterparts. Maybe they are better prepared if it’s a negotiation or competitive meeting or just more careful with the details and better trained if it’s just a team meeting.
There are nevertheless many reasons, taking aside who’s better or who has to gain from a meeting, to want to have a good meeting no matter what. The meeting can be inspiring without pushing to much on the competitive side and fruitful without taking into account who’s more participative or who deserve to be praised for his or her personal contributions. It’s about giving.
“How Can I Help?”
The first thing you note when you ask “How Can I Help?” is the other person relaxing, and if you are doing this with the intention to serve not just because it’s polite your good intentions will be well received. No matter the culture in which your business meeting happens willing to help will bring some good will and trust to the table.
In a competitive environment offering help changes the paradigm of the human interactions. You will be seen as a giver not as a taker and people tend to appreciate a helping hand and, in this way, you differentiate yourself from the other participants. It does not matter who takes the credit, the important thing is that you do well and you have more to gain yourself.
Reciprocity will come into action. There is a mechanism in the brain that compels most of us to reciprocate and to answer in good faith to help received. “How Can I Help?, is not just a smart trick that will help you win the others, it’s a learned behavior of group socialization, so basic that we will all react positively by default.