A Small Mistake (But Not Really)

1652564_origA Small Mistake (but not really).
We are told to focus on the big things.  To set high expectations, to strive and to live an amazing life.  Give it our all, make a bunch of money, do our best, leave it all on the field at the end of the game.  We all get the big things, that’s not the problem.  The problem is the small things.

Small mistakes often pass us in a moment.  We miss them as we move on with the doing of human being.  And yet the small mistakes persist and they become a small and effective nuke until we develop a strategy to work through it.  This rule applies whether you are selling, persuading, negotiating, or even manipulating.  We make presentations to our clients, but we don’t get the sale.  We court prospective companions but don’t get the date.  We teach our children our best but they don’t get it.  Something just doesn’t’ click.  Why?

The small mistake is not understanding how people identify themselves.  Self-identity the pearl in the oyster of meaning a significant key to building rapport.  We all want to be better listeners – it’s important and we know it.  The problem with listening for most of us isn’t the words, it’s the meaning.

Do This
Here’s a simple exercise:  the next time you meet and greet a stranger, ask this simple question:  “tell me about yourself…”  Just those four words.  Don’t ask what they do for a living, don’t inquire about their day, just say, “tell me about yourself…”

And then listen. This answer will reveal self-identity.

What will come next will be what matters to that person the most.
“I’m a mother.”
“I’m a doctor.”
“I grew up in Iowa.”

The first thing we say when answering this question is the most significant part of how we define our lives.  It’s our badge.  It’s the inside message we carry as we go about the world.  It’s how we see ourselves and what we project to others.  How we answer the question is the biggest clue to our own self-identity.

If you own a business, this notion should be on your highest alert.  Making a sale means creating rapport and meeting needs first.  The shortcut to success and the road beyond objection is to understand self-identity of your prospect or customer.  Only then can the presentation be tailored to suit the prospect’s needs, wants and desires.  Perhaps you want to make a new friend.  The rule applies like this:  don’t be a phony, rather, align yourself.  Don’t listen to respond, listen to understand, then show yourself.  And if you want to facilitate a change in a teenager, you first need an awareness of how that teen identifies self before any message is sent.  No teen wants a sermon from those who dangle both the carrots and the sticks but doesn’t have a clue about how it is for him or her.

Did you?

The Important Old News
All of this is a reminder of things we all know but have slipped from our relationship radar.  It’s the basic idea of empathy and it’s both simple and powerful.  Empathic being, empathic listening, and having an empathic perspective.  Seeing how it is for the other person, walking in their shoes, and understanding how it is for them.   Without building this foundation first, what you are selling, the advice you are giving and the opinion you have doesn’t really matter.  This all seems very simple, and maybe even trite, but it’s not.  It’s not easy either.  Empathic being requires a special kind of strength that few among us possess – the strength to step outside of self.  To exit your body, your beliefs, and how it is for you and be 100% in the reality of another.  It’s the only way it ever works.  And for those among us are deep into control or care only about our opinions, sermons, and beliefs, it’s a bugger to be sure.  But it is possible.  Like any muscle, it can get stronger with exercise.  And if you exercise it, that’s exactly what will happen.  A strong set of empathic muscles will help you be at your best.

You might be thinking to yourself, this is all just a bunch of hocus-pocus hooey phooey for self-help gurus, therapists and those wandering the deserts.”  It’s not.  Think of empathy as a kind of tool that applies on all aspects of your life: personal, professional, and familial.  Like a duct tape and drywall screws, it can hold things together and help you solve everyday problems like nothing else can.  And once you make empathy a habit, you’ll probably ask yourself that age-old rhetorical question, “how did I ever get by without this stuff?”

So the next time you are in a conversation, be it persuasion, sales, or lecture, ask the question and then listen for the response, “tell me about yourself…”  And then just…well, you know.

Good luck and have a good week.

Joe Still

Take from The Sunday Blog – Stilltraining.com