The main difference I see between amateurs and professionals is an encoded form of competence that sets their whole posture and “vibe” apart from others.

Professionals have extremely clear discernment about what they get involved in and where they put their energy.  Professionals ONLY put their energy into that which they see will have ROI, will be well received, and will be mutually beneficial for all parties.    This doesn’t mean they are closed minded – they are simply clear.

But how do they know where to put their energy with such certainty?

They openly qualify people and situations before they get involved.

Professionals are absolutely astute at reading body language, at hearing unspoken assumptions underneath words and questions, at seeing your values and likely motives based on what you are wearing and how you connect with people.  They trust their intuition and recognize patterns in human behavior.  A professional might know more about you in 30 seconds of seeing you interact with others than you know about yourself, and you may have no idea what you are communicating to them.

That professional may decide not to move forward with you and not explain herself.  You can take that to mean you may not be fully aware of what you are putting out in the world unconsciously.  On the other hand, if professionals are intrigued to learn more and impressed with you, you may be a professional as well, in which case no one would need to tell you you are.

Professionals ask open ended qualifying questions:

Professionals are more interestED than they are interestING.

Closed questions start with: “do you… have you… will you…” – They have yes or no answers and don’t really tell you much.

Open ended questions start with: “what… when… how…” – They give you a ton of information and if you phrase your question correctly, you will lead, and they will open.

Professionals ask open ended qualifying questions to get to know what is going on in other people in a deep way.  Professionals LOVE people and are genuinely curious, they are just extremely discerning with what they give their energy to.  Before they give their energy to something, they have thoroughly assessed it and the person in an enjoyable connecting conversation.

Professionals have qualifying experiences:

Master visionary director Christopher Nolan, before he shoots a film will sit down with who he thinks may make a great protagonist to the film and often has a 2-3 hour meal with them asking them questions, getting to know them better, seeing how they feel and how they get along.

The  best part is that the actor has NO IDEA that Chris may be offering him a part – the whole time Chris is qualifying, connecting, enjoying his time with this person.

From this, Chris has gathered important information about whether the part may be a fit for them based on their interpersonal chemistry and alignment with the part.

Think of dating – dating is a qualifying experience.  You are getting to know each other to see if you’d both like to take the relationship to the next level.  Yet most of us skip this step.  We share our ideas, opportunities, and things WE are excited about as if we were asking a total stranger to marry us.  Professionals have simply learned the skillful art of courtship in every area of their life.  They are totally focused on others.  They are master at attracting people to them.

Amateurs often complain at qualifying experiences.  That is because amateurs often feel entitled to something while professionals look at everything as having to be earned.

Professionals know what is most important must be protected and only shared with those who have eyes to see and ears to listen.

I see the most masterful professionals do this over and over again.  They are incredibly adept at honoring where people are and enjoying themselves while discerning carefully who they become most involved with.

Qualification is NOT skepticism, it is openness and curiosity

It is easy to confuse qualification with skepticism or cautiousness.  It is not even close to these energies.  Qualification is openness, curiosity, but it is simply not assuming anything.

Unless the person is your absolute best friend, you never present anything with any kind of clarity that it will be suited for them.  Instead, you humbly admit you don’t know and act in alignment with that humility and curiosity.

Some examples of amateur communication vs qualifying communication:

It is often obvious from people’s spoken language and body language whether they are moving from a space of truly understanding your needs and interests or whether they are communicating habitually out of some necessity to share something and not very connected to you.  Here are some examples as to how this can look.

Qualifying Interest

Amateur:  “This is amazing, oh my goodness, you gotta check it out.”

Professional: “Many people love this and really enjoy it.  It may not be for you, but I thought you may benefit from learning about it.  If I shared it with you, would you be open to taking a look?”‘

Qualifying Time:

Amateur: “Just tell me when you’re free and I’m very flexible, I can make it work”

Professional: “If you can commit to being on time I’d be happy to carve out some time and make myself available to you.  Is that something you feel able to do?”

Qualifying Openness To Connect:

Amateur: “Hey, I was thinking of you the other day and I had this great idea that….(on and on and on and on)…

Professional: “Hey, I’ve only got a few minutes and I know your busy, is now a bad time to run something by you real quick?”… (Quick presentation of idea with qualifying interest and then schedule another time to connect if they are open to learning more)

Mastery – When others know your qualifications and aspire to them

Mastery comes when you have mastered the professional level, but other people are additionally thoroughly aware of what you need to interact and they feel inspired to rise up to those high standards.  They bring their best selves, they may go on a personal development journey just to be able to have some time with you.

They want to qualify themselves and become worthy of being called a peer with you.

Masters therefore indirectly create leaders all around them by raising their own standards and interacting most with those that earn the privilege of being around them.  If you have ever been in the presence of a true master, this happens with great love and inspiration and never puts others down.  Masters raise others up, but they don’t ever make others feel bad for not wanting to.

Take for example this communication by Holton Buggs on qualifying people in a room:

When Holton is running a leadership training he says something like this:

“For those of you that have your phones on or are carrying on conversations, that is totally fine but we will ask you to do that outside down the hall.  There are people in this room right now that want to become millionaires and we cannot have anyone interrupting them with their conversations or phones.”

Holton powerfully communicates that there is a place to talk, and it isn’t here… he also invites everyone to rise up to his standards because if you are in the room, it must mean that you are around people who want to be millionaires.  Then you want to say: “I want to be one of those people!” and you rise up.

Everyone feels held, everyone feels good, and the standards are kept high.  That is what masters like Holton do.

Qualifying can happen in every area of your life

Tony Robbins has said that you don’t get what you want, but rather, you get what your standards are.

The process of qualifying happens in every single area of your life.  You qualify the people you go on dates with and marry, who you give or receive money from, who you spend your leisurely time with, who you associate with, what you read and listen to, etc.

The more empowered you become, the higher and higher your standards are and the more and more you qualify.  The more skilled you become, the more people will often not feel offended by this, but instead inspired to grow as well.

Again, this does not mean you become more closed!  If that is happening you may be confusing part of your growth with an arrogance-weed growing beside it.  Professionals are extremely humble.  They take responsibility for the way they participate in everything around them – which is exactly why they are so discerning.

Instead – as you raise your standards – you will become more curious, more open.  You will be able to bless other people where they are MORE because you won’t feel any pressure to be around them inwardly or externally.  You simply feel clear about where you have control and where you don’t.  You know where your help is received well and where it isn’t.  You don’t give to lost causes and you don’t bark up the wrong trees.  You think of one move and it is often the right one.

So my invitation to you is to begin asking what your standards are, to rise to them yourself, and then start qualifying more and more in an open, curious, loving way with everything that invites your attention.  Life will simply get better and better.