As a business analyst preparing to embark on a new engagement you have gotten yourself ready by:
- Reading existing documentation such as charters and business cases.
- Holding informal conversations with individuals knowledgeable of the project.
- Researching external sources of information for background knowledge.
You have also got your wealth of experience accumulated over your career as a business analyst and beyond. So now you are ready, right?
Over my career as a business analyst, I have seen other business analysts pulling out their hair in exasperation over the lack of progress they are getting or the issues they are having dealing with their clients. I had the exact same thoughts go through my mind many times as well. You think,
- "They don't get it!"
- "They won't listen to me!"
- "I know more about it than them!"
- "That's got to be one of the dumbest things I've ever heard!"
Prepare thyself - mentally
I suggest some mental preparation for an engagement is also needed. Before you start:
- Remind yourself to stay open-minded and non-judgmental.
- Be ready to hear and understand, using stoic patience; if needed. There is a difference between listening to someone and hearing them.
- Treat this like a negotiation. Endeavor to maintain your composure at all times.
- Be willing to accept that your initial ideas may not be correct. Let them go.
- Read this poem, Rudyard Kipling's IF, and understand what's being said.
But what if you are already in the meeting and you are starting to lose it mentally?
- Remember your objectives.
- Remember you should always be building relationships.
- Breathe as deeply as you need to (try not to be insulting and do not roll your eyes.)
- Take a short break to recompose yourself. "Bio break anyone?"
- Cultivate ideas. Review and debate them later.
Make sure, that you are mentally focused and ready for the task at hand. If it was easy, they would not need you.