Pink urges us to give the empty-chair thing a try.
"If you're crafting a presentation, the empty chair can represent the audience and its interests. If you're gathering material for a sales call, it can help generate possible objections and questions the other party might raise. If you're preparing a lesson plan, an empty chair can remind you to see things from your students' perspective."
• Nobody cares that your plane is late.
Well, somebody probably cares. Particularly if somebody is meeting you at the airport. But that doesn't mean you should tweet about it.
Twitter is most definitely a medium for pitches. (The University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business even requires its MBA applicants to answer an essay question in 140 characters or fewer.) Might as well tweet something people actually want to read.
Thankfully, computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Georgia Tech recently took a look at "microblog content value," whereby they invited Twitter users to rate 43,000 tweets as worth reading, not worth reading or neutral.
"The types of tweets with the lowest rating fell into three categories: Complaints ('My plane is late. Again.'): Me Now ('I'm about to order a tuna sandwich'); and Presence Maintenance ('Good morning, everyone!)," Pink writes. "Readers assigned the highest ratings to tweets that asked questions of followers. They prized tweets that provided information and links, especially if the material was fresh and new. And they gave high ratings to self-promoting tweets — provided that the tweet offered useful information as part of the promotion."
• You don't need to be an extrovert.
Extroverts — those sociable, assertive, lively souls — have long been assumed to make the best salespeople. Not so, writes Pink.
"We've overlooked one teensy flaw. There's almost no evidence that it's actually true."
Better, he says, to be an ambivert — not too hot, not too cold.
Research from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School found that sales representatives who fall near the middle of the introversion-extroversion spectrum far outearn their counterparts who live closer to either end.
"Extroverts … can talk too much and listen too little, which dulls their understanding of others' perspectives," Pink writes. "Introverts … can be too shy to initiate and too timid to close."
Ambiverts find a balance.
"They know when to speak up and when to shut up. Their wider repertoires allow them to achieve harmony with a broader range of people and a more varied set of circumstances. Ambiverts are the best movers because they're the most skilled attuners."
• You do need to be agreeable.
Knowing when to speak up is great, but knowing what to say is even greater. And you should start by saying "yes."
Pink borrows a practice widely used in improvisational theater classes, in which actors are urged to follow each other's comments with a "yes and" of their own. He recalls an exercise he observed while studying Cathy Salit, a Manhattan-based actor who teaches improv skills to businesspeople.
"One person begins with a proposition — for example, 'Let's have our high school reunion in Las Vegas,'" Pink writes. "Every subsequent comment from both participants must begin with 'Yes, but.' It usually unfolds something like this: