Watashi-wa bucho no opai. I am the manager of the boobs.
This is how my friends in Tokyo taught me to introduce myself my first night Japan. It was confusing at first, the disgusted look from the hotel clerk and the abrupt departure of several pretty women at the bar. Confusing because my friends had told me I was introducing myself as the manager of brands, not boobs. A little joke they let me in on only after I got my face slapped.
The next night I went out again. This time, rather than try to introduce myself, I told people about the joke and got very different results. Instead of slapping me they laughed and asked what I really did, where I was from and began sharing things about themselves.
Opening with a joke breaks the ice because it evens the playing field. You may be the one standing at the mic telling the joke but as soon as the punchline is delivered we’re all in on it and that equality matters a great deal if you want to earn trust.
The same goes when we have important news to share. The sooner you get to the point the sooner people feel honored, even when it’s bad news. Study’s show that over 75% of people receiving information prefer to ‘get the bad news first’ and yet, 65-70% of news-giver’s prefer to start with the good because it makes them feel less guilty.
Don’t do it. Step up and let people in on the secret. Give them the chance to become equals in the conversation and you’ll be surprised how much quicker they become collaborators rather than opponents.
Perry is a coach, mentor and advisor to successful leaders all over the world who has not been slapped since Tokyo.