Step Through the Looking-Glass

You remember Alice, the girl who stepped through the Looking Glass.
I had a conversation with a client, let’s call him Bob, the other day who told me he was having difficulty communicating with his son. He had had no trouble with his two daughters, but his son just didn’t seem to want to talk.
The lad was getting good grades, hanging out with good kids – really nothing to worry about except Bob wanted to have a good relationship with his son and it wasn’t happening.
Let’s start with a basic rule. You can’t convince anybody of anything. They have to discover they want it. That means we have to understand their world. We have to step through the looking glass and see the world from their side.
How do we do that?
First, we need a lot of patience. Let’s pretend you have a young deer who comes into your yard. You have some apples and you’d like to get it to eat out of your hand. First, you stand very still. Even then, it might run away. After a day or so, it will stick around. Now you gently roll an apple towards it. It runs away. After you go in the house, it comes back and takes the apple. After a few days of this, it will let you toss the apples without running away. Slowly you can toss the apples closer and closer to you. Eventually, if you are very, very patient and don’t make any sudden movements, it will trust you enough to eat out of your hand.
Reaching out to someone who is defensive is just like feeding the deer. You have to avoid showing the slightest bit of impatience or frustration. Trust is built slowly and lost quickly. Expect nothing so you won’t be disappointed.
Second, we need to use a process of asking questions in a non-threatening manner and providing positive feedback whatever the response is. Let them know that it’s OK if they don’t want to talk (and mean it!).
Show a genuine interest in whatever they are interested in. If it’s interesting to them, find out why so you can understand and show an interest too. Ask a question out of the blue. “You know, I was looking at (your interest) and I was curious about how (something).” “Curious” is a magic word. It shows interest without being pushy. Whatever you get back as a response, provide a positive response like “Hmm…” or “Oh, I see,” and then ask another question. Don’t offer your own opinion, judgement, or contribute anything at all at this point. Stick to asking questions. Let them do the talking and you do the listening. This is the hard part! No matter how much you want to talk, just don’t. That’s like throwing the apple at the deer’s head. As soon as you start talking, they will feel you’re no longer interested in them but in yourself. If you can’t think of a question, nod your head and wait for them to continue.
Keep it up and two things will happen. They will start enjoying talking to you because you’re showing interest and not interrupting, and you will start to see their world through their eyes.
You’ll have stepped through the Looking Glass.

The views and opinions in this blog do not necessarily represent those of the SouthSoundCommunityGuide. We do however value your opinion.

About Chris Lee

Chris came to sales and management after ten years on the stage as an actor and musician. Born in England, he spent much of his childhood and adult life in the US. Today he works with business owners, managers and selling professionals to help them improve their people skills and achieve their goals. His clients keep telling him that what he teaches them is making a big change in the way they interact outside the workplace. Chris sees this blog as an opportunity to share some of what he teaches with the South Sound community.

Greenview Training Solutions Inc.
8282 28th Court NE, Suite C, Lacey, WA 98516
Office: (360) 539-1750 cell: (360) 451-8224
Facebook: SandlerOlympia
Twitter: @CHLOlympia

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