How Do I Avoid Appearing Meek When Starting a New Job?

Michelle asks:

Could you provide tips to not appear ‘meek’ in interviews and during your first days on the job? When I start a new job I’m usually quiet while I listen and gather information. I am called a sunny person because I smile and talk positively around everyone. So, the context is from other people that are going to be working with me, after 5 days on the job – observing me. My latest manager has reported this to me that the functional analysts are worried because I seem meek. I checked with a former boss and he thought so too at the beginning. So, I guess having been seen like this in several jobs – I don’t think that is the way I want to come across. How do you seem strong, capable and intelligent without being meek, or going the other way and seeming like a bulldozer? :-)

Laura’s answer:

I think I often act similarly in a new position and it is great that your latest manager took the opportunity to give this feedback…otherwise how would one know about how such laudable actions (taking time to understand before being understood, and cultivate a positive relationship with your stakeholders) are being perceived?

As I thought this one over, a story came to mind. In my director role I interviewed someone to take over the PMO for our organization. She had worked with our CIO previously, so her capabilities were known. After we had each met with her, our VP of Technology made an interesting point. He thought that as a leader of project managers, she seemed like she might be a pushover and he was wary about bringing her onto our team because she didn’t seem like she could stand up to the business. The CIO (who was anything but meek herself) reported that was one of her strong traits. She created the perception that she was acquiescent, but when circumstances dictated it, she held fast. So she built strong relationships without being confrontational and created a position of strength for her team.

Perhaps part of this story rings true to you? And you might wonder whether it’s worth changing this initial perception, and what position of strength might be sacrificed in the long run, if you did?

But perhaps some expectation setting is in order, and some small tweaks might help you. Another story comes to mind, but this might seem unrelated so please bear with me at first.

I’m a writer and a note-taker. If I’m in a meeting, I write notes. As I prepare for my CBAP, I’m practically rewriting the whole BABOK by hand. When I interview someone for a new position, I also take copious notes. It’s how I process information best, and when I was sometimes in meetings 5-6 hours per day, I needed to use every tool at my disposal to ensure I processed the information coming in.

But I noticed that my note-taking was sometimes having adverse impacts on job interviewees or in 1-1 meetings with staff. Even good candidates get nervous and I realized that my note-taking was sometimes causing them to hesitate and not fully engage in our conversation. So I started a new habit of explaining my note-taking at the beginning of an interview, and let my staff know about it too, just to be sure they understood that regardless of what I thought about what they were saying, I was going to take notes. I apologized if this was distracting and explained my way of processing information.

This seemed to help ease the tension a lot. This habit has filtered over to my consulting where if I’m in a meeting with new stakeholders, I just mention my note-taking habit up front and let them know to expect it. Typically in this situation, I also take the opportunity to cast it as a benefit, letting them know that I take a lot of notes so that I don’t have to come back to them repeatedly with the same questions.

How might this help you? Well, would it make sense to consider being up front about some of the ways you behave that make you be perceived as meek with your manager or other analysts, and provide them with alternate interpretations for these behaviors up front? Possibly let them know that you tend to be acquiescent as you build relationships with new stakeholders and that this has caused you to be perceived as meek in the past, but it really helps you in the long-run get done what needs doing. Perhaps by admitting this “flaw” in the beginning, you’ll be able to control the perception from those who really matter, avoid any negative short-term consequences, and also be able to do your job in the way that makes you successful?

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Comments

  1. Hi there everyone,

    I am in a similar situation as I have just secured myself what I think will be a wonderful BA job with plenty of scope for growth and learning. I also see myself as shy and quite introverted and have been worrying about the first few days, meeting new people, etc.
    However feedback that I have received recently says that I always appear confident and positive. This has really surprised me as I certainly don’t feel like it – sometimes my insides feel like jelly.

  2. @Steve: you wrote a great post in the comments area. Not fair :-).

    “The business analyst has the right to challenge a solution that is flawed or doesn’t go to solving the problem. And this can be done quite politely.”

    So true.

  3. “Salute and march”. This is a somewhat pejorative term, even in the military from whence it originates. While on the positive side it may imply unwavering devotion to a leader and unquestioning faith in the leader’s sense of direction, the phrase has come to mean failure to think for oneself and simply following orders to stay out of trouble. The epitome of this behavior was in Paris Island in the 60s when a Drill Instructor marched his troops at night into a swamp where two recruits died. Marine Corps policy was changed after that.
    “Salute and march” is the negative side of being overly polite and meek. (Excessive politeness that is not assertive leads to meekness in perception if not in actuality.) Unfortunately, much of the business, especially marketing and mid-level management, who may be more concerned with their own image, career path, and reputation, expect business analysts to accept their solution and make it happen without a need to expose the business analyst to the real business problem and let the business analyst do their job (for example coming up with a better solution). The business analyst in turn faced with a senior officer in the company (someone in other words outranking them) will “follow orders” and go get the requirements. The business analyst will do so politely and conscientiously. It all works out as long as the solution implemented is in fact the best solution. When it isn’t as so often happens the business manager blames the business analyst (and therefore so does everyone else). The business analyst may be perceived as being “meek” for simply following orders.
    When the business analyst fails to do their job of communicating and analyzing because they are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, being impolite, crossing swords with higher authority, or they are simply afraid for their jobs, the business analyst is not doing their job. (Of course there could be other psychology at play as well. For example, some good old passive aggressive stuff: “We’ll just do it their way and when it fails then they’ll see how good my solution was and they’ll be sorry!”)
    The business analyst always has the right to ask questions and more questions. The business analyst always has the right to ask what the real problem is behind any proffered solution. The business analyst has the right to challenge a solution that is flawed or doesn’t go to solving the problem. And this can be done quite politely. I submit that failing to do this when the circumstances call for it might well be considered weak, ineffectual or simply “salute and march”. While this may win points with the business manager who gets his or her way without challenge, it certainly is not the best for the overall organization or for the business analyst’s peace of mind.

  4. Michelle,

    I don’t think the two things can be compared — how we behave at work and at home. Also, I don’t think people confuse politeness and manners with being meek. I know many extremely polite BAs at work who have never been called meek!

    Like I said in my first reply, if you noticed that people consistently perceive you as meek when you are interviewing or starting a new project, I think it’s laudable that you recognized the pattern and is trying to change it — specially if you believe this could be affecting your ability to fit in with your new team (the comment from your manager about functional analysts being worried does seem to indicate an opportunity for improvement).

    I’ve been married for a long time too, and wouldn’t trust my husband to be able to accurately describe how I am perceived at work ;-). Just my 2 cents.

  5. Michelle Swoboda says

    I was just discussing this post with my husband and he looked at me oddly and said – ‘you meek?’ and then lots of uncontrolled laugher bubbled out of him. He said ‘you are like momma grizzly’ and more laughter ensued. This was a totally different perspective – why didn’t I ask my husband first? Hmmm. We then talked about it and he thinks that the business is confusing politeness and manners with being meek. So, if this perspective has some validity – and it should after 24 years of marriage – have we lost our manners in the workplace? Or do manners not have any place in business? What do all of you think?

  6. Michelle Swoboda says

    Adriana and all, great ideas. I have found that it takes about 45 days for people to get to know you and how you will react as a consultant. Approximately 60 days to prove yourself.
    It is a tough balance, do you criticize those on the project already – no; do you voice your opinion – depends, do you have enough background to do that?
    Now that I have the first project and now a second one – I have a different PM and I am proving myself again. This time I sat down with the PM to ask what I could do to help her with her fears (the project has failed 3 times). We had a good chat and built some trust.
    Each scenario is different – so we all react in different ways. I have learned from this post that it is ok to ask for advice and that everyone comes from their own space and background in responding. I am so proud to be part of this community.

  7. Jenny Nunemacher says

    Wow, Adriana, what an interesting perspective! I am hard-pressed to be a rock-the-boat kind of gal, but I never thought that others might feel that way and being a newcomer or consulting might empower me to make an impact.

  8. Michelle, I loved Laura’s initial answer: she noticed a pattern of her behavior causing discomfort in people, and started addressing it in advance so she didn’t have to change, by setting the right expectations and avoiding people misunderstand her behavior.

    I think you might want to try that in future interviews or situations you feel *your* pattern seems to be happening again. As I read other comments, even without knowing you too well, I thought several of the other tips provided here would be irrelevant in your case, because from your posts here at BTG I know you would be doing the right things already (eye contact, asking questions, building relationships, etc.).

    Here’s my own answer, in case it helps.

    First, I think it’s a great sign that you noticed this pattern. Not only for your sake, but for mine (it’s rare for me to see an word in English I don’t recognize, and I had to look up the Webster dictionary to figure out what “meek” means, LOL). But back to your story, it’s laudable that you are trying to change the pattern if it’s bothering you (and potentially causing problems, such as developers starting to bypass you and talk directly to the business when having a BA in the conversation would help, just because they think you wouldn’t be assertive enough).

    Since I am considered the opposite of meek (in the sense of submissive or easily imposed on) on interviews and during my first days on a job, perhaps this tip might help (this is not something I do on purpose, but maybe you could try to do the same when an opportunity arises, even if you normally wouldn’t).

    In addition to asking question, try to ask questions that show you aren’t necessarily agreeing with an approach.

    For example, in an interview, I may ask “is the business OK with you delivering on their requests only 9-12 months after they are received, without any certainty that they will get what they need?” (this is after I had asked what’s the typical approach and length of their projects and learned that they use a strict waterfall method in which the users only got to see/test the product 9-12 months after the project started). The interviewer agreed that the approach is not favorable and one of the main reasons the business was very unsatisfied with the results IT was delivering.

    Or, after a few months on a job, in reply to an email that established unrealistic deadlines for the deliverables of the BA, “may I ask who set up those dates when it’s clear we won’t even have obtained the necessary information we need to complete the artifacts before the deadlines?”.

    In this second case, other people were equally affected by the unrealistic deadlines, but opted not to say anything (I waited to see before I sent my reply, heh). Perhaps they were hoping someone would do that for them so they didn’t have to look like *they* were trying to rock the boat. However, my boss was the first to agree with my view (after reading my explanation), and that caused the dates to change to more appropriate ones.

    I call my approach “The Emperor’s New Clothes” for obvious reasons :-). Some people seem to think that being submissive and accepting things as they have been told is the best way of showing they are a “team player”, but I disagree.

    Having been a consultant for 10 years, I know it takes a while for us to get a good sense of the company/culture/dynamics in order to be able to offers useful ideas for change (as Laura pointed out, it’s never a good idea to start suggesting changes before building a relationship and truly understanding the context).

    However, it doesn’t mean we won’t spot things (sometimes in our very first days in a new job) that are clearly not appropriate or may cause problems if not addressed. In my second example, what good would be achieved if nobody spoke up, and instead, by the promised date, came with a “good excuse” why the documents weren’t ready? Better to address the problem from the get-go.

    Sometimes, saying “the emperor is naked” is a good way to both preemptively solve potential problems and showing you are an assertive person, who may be taking her time to learn and observe before you speak, but is not afraid of speaking up when the situation requires ;-).

  9. Hi Steve,
    I definitely agree with you, this is definitely somewhat of an expected behavior among BAs.This caused more of a problem in job interviews (where I was the interviewer) and 1-1 meetings with my staff, as I think it gave the impressions of writing down negative impressions and I found that my prefaces really helped. And then when I returned to BA they stuck and have come in handy when doing virtual business analysis.

    Again, in the context of this article, it’s all about perceptions and ensuring the impact of what you are doing is being perceived in a positive way. That waitress you mentioned might just pretend to take notes to relieve her customer’s anxiety or let them know in advance she has a rock solid history of accurate orders!

  10. Hi laura
    I haven’t read thru the comments, so I hope I’m not repeating anyone. I don’t think you have to apologize for note taking. Generally note taking is a positive thing if done correctly. That is, taking notes, not writing everything down verbatim.
    Take a one on one interview. As the responder is answering a question you are jotting a note or two about the response. The responder can only feel that what they are saying is important enough to take notes notes about. Consider the alternative of sitting there staring and nodding at the response.
    Consider also a waitress (real story) at a restaurant in Wyoming taking the dinner orders of four people without noting anything. While we got our food almost as ordered all four of us commented on our uneasiness about the process. Certainly someone can remember four orders of dinner for the several minutes it takes to traverse the restaurant to the kitchen, but we still felt concern that she did not write anything down. It was as tho she didn’t hold our order in very high importance.
    I generally tape my interviews whenever possible. Even so, when a responder is waxing eloquent and talking for minutes I will take notes. I find that this prompts the responder to talk more. Sometimes I think they talk more just to see me take notes on the important things they are saying.
    Consider another analogy: you are speaking to a group, making a presentation. The group sits and stares at you, sometimes nodding their heads regardless of what pearls of wisdom you are offering . Now imagine the same scene and instead of sitting and staring, they are jotting notes every once in a while when you make your good points. Which is more appealing to you as the speaker?
    The issue of course is when the responder finishes talking and you are still wirting. There is that awkward pause. You smile sheepishly and say something like “i’m just getting this down. Be with you in a second.” And the pause continues. The way around that is to take abbreviated notes, in your own form of shorthand and transcribe them immediately after the conversation. And follow a rule: when the responder stops talking you finish writing your last two words only even if it means your sentence is left incomplete, then immediately ask the next question. Otherwise the message you are giving the responder is that what you are writing is more important than what she is saying.

    • Nick Panagopoulos says

      @Steve, that’s good advice on note taking.
      I’m guilty of having those awkward pauses from taking notes. I tell them that I’m taking notes, but the silence is deafining.
      At times, I can repeat what they said (active listening), but when I can’t, I wish I had some laugh box or some intro/outro music to play for the interlude.

  11. Yeah I was told at my new job that I am “Cutting at the bit” to take it slow I will have plenty of time to ‘Dive” in. So I guess there is a balance..personally I was ready to rumble on day one-asking questions, scheduling interviews..i was ready to learn but maybe it was over kill and I should of let management take the lead but at the same time I did not want to appear so laid back. So I don’t know the right or wrong way..i guess it depends on the team.

  12. Tina Kanne says

    Thanks – This has been a great topic and thread with some great insight. I am a ‘5 footer’ who has gained the impression I am preceived as meek in the beginning, from both a size standpoint and I am also rather quiet in beginning while I am assessing the people and situation.

  13. Michelle,

    We all face this predicament in some form or shape all along our BA careers. This is mostly the case when we join new teams. All the tips and insights above are great and valuable. @Kriti is right on about some tips to approach individual interactions, and like @Jennifer points out asking questions is a great way to not appear meek (the right ones).

    Here are 5 things you could try that can potentially help you:

    1. Take your being sunny side to the next level by interacting one-on-one with key team members by trying to learn more about what they think about this project, its challenges, or even something informal etc. (Shows interest and you are asking questions). Here is one way I do this: Since I work in a multi-cultural multi-ethnic and multi-lingual teams, I informally engage with them to learn how to say “Hello” or “How ru” in their language. 🙂 When I say “Ni hau” it lights up every chinese face. (esp coming from a brown person)

    2. Coffee cure – like @Nick and @Kriti point out take them out for a coffee. If they dont drink coffee (like most chinese don’t) it could be lunch or green tea. I do this often with my team members, and when somebody is busy burning their nuerons with code ask them “Can I bring some coffee for you?”.

    3. Practise and enhance your social skills – Since there is no zenith to how good one’s social skills can be, a constant stream of ongoing practise is helpful. (you never know which day you will need the next level of skills). I strongly suggest joining toastmasters, and taking up various roles to practise your communication and leadership skills.

    4. In interviews for the most part its your body language that matters. Eye contact is extremely important, and also asking questions towards the end that show a little curiosity about the new role or project. (Questions like: So how does this fit into the overall strategy of your organization, what is a typical day like in your team, how well do you think my skills and experience aligns with this job position?, etc)

    5. For the first few days since you don’t want to seem like a bulldozer (which I am sure won’t happen overnight:) I suggest working with individual members of your team and build relationships. Building relationships in a short time is extremely difficult, however most good sales professionals are able to do it. So may be study a bit about how sales people do it.

    In summary its all about building relationships. Questions, helpful interactions, and engagement are a few possible shortcuts.

    Just my two cents! 🙂

    • Thanks I will def have to work on building releationships..I am so focused on learning the information that I am glued to my cube and have turned down a couple of lunch dates. So I need to work on that thanks

      • Yes. These when built right and cherised in a team, can go a long way! Building relationships with stakeholders is very important, but with your team members it is crucial. 🙂

  14. Nick Panagopoulos says

    I agree with @Stewart. You know how to be a BA, you just don’t know how to be a BA on this team yet. You are throw into this existing team, who may be norming or performing, and you know that you will set back the team if you ask the basic questions that everyone already knows the answers to.
    As I mature in the BA role, I understand the importance of politics and the people/team management aspect. Just understanding each person in each role, and understanding what motivates them will help you get to a solution faster.
    I understand the value of your relationships with each person in the project.

    I think, that the best way to begin your relationship with these people is to get with each of the on a one-on-one basis. Get lunch together, go for a cup of coffee, meet with people individually to learn about their background, a little about their personal life, and so that they can understand your background. Then ask them about some old projects they thought went well. End by talking about your current project.
    If you don’t have the time to meet indivdually, then I try to take control somehow. I schedule the meetings, create the agenda, and make sure to have an introduction of what I’m trying to do in the meeting. When in a group setting, I plead ignorance and ask lots questions. I also like to lighten up the mood by bringing up a personal item, like about an anniversary coming up or some other kind of milestone, just don’t be pretentious. I also thank everyone joining the call as they join and try to repeat their name. Every little thing adds up.
    The objective of your first couple weeks is to immerse yourself as part of the team. If you are not meek at wanting to be part of the team, they won’t think you’re a meek BA.

  15. It’s normal for new employees to be a bit reticent. This is natural human behavior in a new setting with new people. Whether it’s a new job, club or any organization there is a proclivity to be pleasant to people to gain acceptance. Better this than to be forceful and run the risk of rejection.

    • Bennett,
      I definitely agree with you. Just yesterday I was on a call where the person spent all his time talking about their methodology and process and how they bring this to their clients. I kept wondering, at what point do you stop and ask what the customer wants? How do you know what the customer needs? What about building the relationship before you create change (that might not even be right)? I think in general, taking the time to build relationships first, assert ourselves second leads to better long-term success.

      That being said, I completely understand Michelle’s dilemma as to how to control the perception in the short-term, while you build relationships that will be valuable in the long-term.

  16. Michelle Swoboda says

    Anita, good thoughts and how I work too.

  17. Anita Duenas says

    I agree with the comments above on explaining my process ahead of time, in terms of note-taking and listening, and then summarizing at the end with a firm list of “next steps,” which I think will also leave your stakeholders feeling confident that what they have just communicated to you has been digested and is part of a process of which you are in control.

    I also find it useful to occasionally stop and try to confirm my understanding of what I am listening to. Something like “OK, let me check my understanding of what you’ve just said…” I think this is a good tactic to ensure what you are documenting is, in fact, correct. However, it is also an engagement technique often used in facilitation and mediation in order for people to feel heard and to ensure all parties are on the same page. Perhaps what is considered meek by some people is a feeling that they are not engaged with another person, or making themselves understood.

    Just a thought…

  18. Just remember that its all an illusion. The con in “con job” is for Confidence – if you look like you know what you are doing then people won’t ever think to question that you have no idea at all. 🙂
    Smile, stand up straight, hands/arms open, have a firm handshake, make eye contact, nod, use active verbs (“tell me about…” instead of “please explain…”) and generally believe in yourself and that your way of doing things works well for you. The trick is to find the balance with your own style and personality.
    Being young, tall and male does make it easier, but I have seen a four foot female do it in a room full of men (it was impressive to watch!). Guys sometimes have the opposite problem of coming across too strongly instead.

    • Hi Stuart,
      This seems like a recipe for disaster for a new BA, at least to me! As a BA we want people to give us input and if we go in looking like we know everything (faking confidence) it’s likely they are not going to reveal those hidden gems as they will assume we are just too smart to need them too.

      Perhaps you have some different techniques for working around this that have worked for you?

      • Hi Laura,
        Sorry, re-reading my comment it does come across as bad advice for new BAs, but for an experienced BA like Michelle it can help.
        You’re absolutely right, overdoing it can make you look like a cocky know-it-all (which is obviously very bad), but the goal is to convince them that you know how to do your job, not theirs. Like any tool it can be miss-used.

        As a new BA achieving the right balance can be very difficult as you might not actually know enough. Honesty is *ALWAYS* the best policy. Explain what you do know, explain what you don’t know but want to find out and, most of all, ask for help.

        As BAs, especially when consulting or on contract, we often have limited time with stakeholders/users to inspire confidence so they will open up and offer us those gems that will make the project a success. Michelle’s perceived meekness may be slowing this down for some of the people she deals with. She doesn’t need to change how she works, just how others see her initially.

        “It’s an illusion” doesn’t mean trying to trick people, just that you have control over it. Public speaking training often has to get people over the same problems – you are presenting because you know the subject, but talking in front of a crowd makes you nervous, so you juist need to forget the nervous bit and focus on what you know you do well.
        Remember, you are already doing this. Explaining your note-taking upfront is just stage managing the appearance; the other person sees your actions in the postive way you have explained it to them.

      • Hi Stuart,

        How you explain it now makes much more sense. Thanks for elaborating! 🙂

  19. Michelle Swoboda says

    Karen, great story. The funny thing is – they hired me. So either they did not see meek – and I think they didn’t. They saw meek while I was getting up to speed. After two days of being on site – is it a fair assessment of someone? Hmmm…

  20. Michelle Swoboda says

    Kriti, thank you for your analysis. I appreciate it.
    I am going all of that – I always do eye contact, shake hands, introduce myself if someone forgets.
    But I am nice – and I wear my heart on my sleeve and I wonder if that is what people have trouble with. Once they get to know me, they like the ‘nice’ person and the good BA.
    Hard to figure out 🙂

  21. I suspect this is more of a woman’s issue than a man’s. Women can’t play the game in exactly the same way men do. As to job interviews – you need to tell a story or two that shows your transition from meek to take charge in context. Since I often work with or manage younger men, I was recently asked how I managed that. My response included a couple of concrete positive examples and a statement to the effect that I play the cards I’m dealt. I keep the focus on the work and the fact that I’m there to help them succeed which is generally supportive, but when I have to hold them accountable, I do – just like a mother.

    • Hi Karen,
      What an interesting insight that the same actions can be perceived differently by men vs. women. I hadn’t even thought of that in my answer, so I’m really glad you brought it up.

    • Karen – As a man, I can also related to Michelle’s question. I wonder if it is possibly something that introverts experience more often, where we process and digest things internally rather than verbally. I definitely find that I need to push myself to process a bit more externally when I begin a new assignment since people don’t know what’s going on in my head. 🙂

  22. Try asking a lot of questions, it allows you to continue to gather information, while also appearing engaged and communicative.

    • Nick Panagopoulos says

      I agree with Jennifer. The more questions you ask, the more respect you will get. Just make sure they’re the right questions!

      • Jenny Nunemacher says

        Yes, this was going to be my first suggestion, too.

      • Jenny Nunemacher says

        I would echo Laura’s suggestion of being up front with your style, explaining that you learn a lot by listening and observing. (By the way, Laura, I’ve started using your technique of prefacing meetings to explain that if I’m not talking it’s because I’m taking notes. I especially do this when there are phone conference participants and where I am both scribe and facilitator. You did that once with me and I thought at the time that it was unusual for you to say that, but it totally removed the awkwardness from the silence. Great suggestion!)

        Back to the topic… I think the perception problem might be more negative if your reticence is predominant or goes on for too long. Maybe in addition to the question-asking suggestion you could also follow up with various people (especially key team members) to ask questions or discuss what you’ve been learning. I had a director who was very welcoming to me in that fashion. We’d have regular touch points which started with an agenda of reviewing my current activities and addressing specific questions, but we often got into bigger discussions of business goals and industry/market trends. I learned so much in that job, and I really appreciated those discussions. It also had the added benefit of demonstrating my curiosity and perception outside of the project boundaries.

        I have also been in one job where being too passive for too long in the beginning was detrimental to my success there. I think there is a key period when you do need to be assertive and the timing for that totally depends on the team. This is especially true if the team is not quite sure what your role is going to be or they haven’t quite figured out how to on-board you. You have to start taking responsibility and doing things that seem reasonable and useful, and then watch for those signals that you’re either going down the wrong path or that they like what you’re doing. (It’s not unlike prototyping a design as a means of requirements elicitation. It’s hard for people to say what they want, but if you start showing them something they know whether they like it or not.)

      • Jenny, Thanks for sharing your experience with me – it is always so helpful to learn how you are perceived! And especially to hear that even though this was strange at first it helped dispel some awkwardness.

        Very good point that this really depends on the team and the culture. There is no one answer and a lot depends on the direction you are given (or the lack thereof) and what makes people successful in the organization. Rest assured in an organization guided by a firm process, someone who jumps out of the gate with 20 suggested changes is not going to be well-received. But in an organization that doesn’t know what they need, jumping in and making things happen is critical.

  23. Kriti Gupta says

    Hello Michelle,

    Here is my two cents worth….
    I am relatively new to the business analysis world though I have been working in a consulting company for a long time. Since in my line of work I had to constantly meet new clients, customers, business owners I often faced the same problem as yours. Here are a few tips that helped me out…

    1. When you meet the people for the first time make sure you have firm eye contact with them and give a firm hand shake. I understand it does not seem to be a big thing, but it tends to set a tone. One of my managers complimented me on the same once I started using this.

    2. During the interview make sure you are prepared with the questions and have done your home work as thoroughly as possible. I know it is not always possible to know what you might be walking into but it does pay to know about the business a little bit in advance. (I learnt this from Laura and it has helped me tremendously).

    3. If possible, get a feedback on why the perception is coming across as such. Your friends might be able to help you out here as well. Is it the body language or is it just that you are not asking the questions in the forth right manner you usually would once you got comfortable or is it just that you prefer to listen during the first few interviews and not offer much until you’ve had a chance to analyze things. For the body language, you can refer to the point 1 I’ve mentioned. For being comfortable, you may want to just talk to the people one on one before the interview. Maybe at the cafeteria or at the coffee machine or just give them a call to introduce yourself. The thing that works most for me is trying to associate them with someone I’ve already worked with or know. For the last part, I agree with Laura, you can be up front about being a listener in the first few meetings and say you just work better that way.

    Hope it helps…

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