Tag Archives: nonverbal communication

Don’t waste my time: 3 steps to avoid conflict

4 Mar

What triggers set you off?

Admittedly, I’m unsure of my specific plans to sell my apartment, but when a potential realtor said, ‘I don’t want to waste my time’, my communication skills went the way of affordable middle-class housing in NYC (non-existent).

www.talkingdollarsandcents.net.  Hey I'm selling a studio apartment and all my worldly possessions!

www.talkingdollarsandcents.net. Hey I’m selling a studio apartment and all my worldly possessions!

So I thought about triggers.  Triggers that get pulled and explode in either conflict and/or nasty feelings.  We all have them: those intangible minefields, verbal or nonverbal (tone of voice or ‘scrunched’ faces) that upset our equilibrium about how we feel about ourselves, our lives, and the world we live in.

So why did the flippant comment of this realtor bug me so much and what did it remind me of ‘fighting words’?

Current emotional residence:  Conflict is always about what is going on inside.  Selling my external/physical residence feels freeing, but as my next step is uncertain, internally I’m emotionally fragile.    The stress of ‘when’ to sell was heightened as my uncertainty met with her impatience.

Expectations:  It is wrong, but I still expect to be treated with some semblance of kindness, goodwill, compassion by others – especially in a situation where I am the customer and will make her money.   A little empathy goes a long way I always think to reminding me I am in a ‘human’ relationship.

Communication style differences:  Yes, I know different people focus on different things.  I focus on relationships whether it is in selling my apartment or going to the dentist.   In a busy city in our modern 24/7 life it a reminder  others favor tasks and getting things done over a warm fuzzy relationship shouldn’t surprise me – and yet…  And while I ultimately want a task focused realtor, this realtor’s task approach left me feeling like I do when the ‘F’ train suddenly goes express leaving me in the freezing cold on an outdoor subway platform.

Needless to say, I let this realtor know I wouldn’t list with her.  Her verbal comments and nonverbal tone made me feel like my sell was ‘pocket change’ which it is, but still….  I recommended I would have preferred a ‘let’s see if this will work for both of us’ approach.

www.featurepics.com  The math equation we all have memorized!

www.featurepics.com The math equation we all have memorized!

Time is money and it always has been.    As a consultant, I’ve spent months patiently calling potential clients to discuss their needs.  Sometimes its paid off, quite often not.  Is there anything more valuable than money?  I suppose that is up to each of us to decide.  Like I said, I focus on relationships.  Granted, one reason why I am selling a VERY low commission apartment!

So as l ditch my cheap little apartment, not only don’t I want my time wasted – more importantly I don’t want my good nature destroyed.  So here is my 3 step reminder to myself (and any potential realtor or substitute realtor for any person of potential conflict) to prevent conflict and make a sell:

1.  Compassion:  Realize when someone is seeking ‘help’ they are (likely) feeling vulnerable.  Compassion like empathy goes a long way.  I know it’s so last century, but ‘be nice’.

https://www.kindsnacks.com/store#All-KIND-Products.  Healthy snacks earn a profit with the message to do kind things for others

https://www.kindsnacks.com/store#All-KIND-Products. Healthy snacks earn a profit with the message to do kind things for others and (basically be nice)

2. Expectations:  (see above) and: I don’t know my potential clients expectations (hell, as a seller in this situation I barely know mine!).  This is a reminder to compassionately ask:  what are your expectations for working with me?  It’s not meant to be an end to negotiations, only a good beginning.  And a good first step to ensure no-one’s time is wasted.

3.  Connect with style:  (see above) and: remember we all have different styles and ways to go about doing the same things.  This is why we are always grousing about partners, significant others, and friends.  In reality no-one does things the way we do.  So my most important reminder:  LISTEN to what someone is asking/telling to understand what the other person needs.  A simple:  ‘tell me more’ goes a long way to not wasting time on either end.

Wishing you ‘easy sells’  and interactions filled with connection, calm, and compassionate!

What I really want: The Coach is IN: A Talk in the Park

30 Jul

Two young men drinking soda eyed my sign for ten minutes before curiosity propelled them to  explore further.  Three weeks of basketball camp brought them to

Wonder if Barack’s basketball prowess impresses these boys?

Pennsylvania from Belgium and the West Indies.  Practicing English brought them to me.

50 teens from French-speaking countries are at camp learning to dribble and shoot the ‘American’ way.  Today, their NYC day was all about shopping.  Hanging in Bryant Park was respite on a hot day.

The young Belgian shares: Americans are friendlier and more open, than people in Brussels, who rush to destinations, ignoring people met on their journey.   Perspective is viewed through an experiential kaleidoscope.  Usually its New Yorkers accused of fitting meaningful interactions into a ‘New York minute’.

Isn’t every life experience viewed through a kaleidoscope? Image from the University of Arkansas, Math 2033!

My own kaleidoscope turns to late-afternoon business lunchers in the park.   I wonder what challenges await them back at the office.   They won’t stop to talk.  This I know from my ‘Talk in the Park’.  Experience reminds patience.

Minutes later, a young man, paused, then sits.  True, he’s in the chair beside me, yet I feel his needs circling the table.   It’s not my imagination.

S. has been in the U.S. for several years, having emigrated from Benin, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13037572 ,  a small, poor, country close to Nigeria.  Unemployed, he’s just applied to work at McDonald’s.  He really wants to work, but isn’t optimistic.

‘People see that’ he’s not calm.  Armed with rejections and feeling unaccepted, he believes this comes from his own negative self-talk.  S. is working to control his mind, delving into self-help.  His self-awareness is remarkable.

His face clouds, pinches.  Frustration feeds his stress while talking about failed interviews and work frustrations.

Customer service and a strong work ethic take center stage in examples from his past sales associate position.  S. cajoles customers to try new items, bringing products to their attention, based on what was already in their basket.

Hmm.  Based on my experience training managers for a large retail chain, S. appears to be the perfect candidate.  We talk about interview strategies to share his talents.  Interview questions are unrealistic, he feels.  He can’t and won’t answer what he likes/doesn’t like.

His love of work, need to focus and accomplish tasks both compliment and unnerve his sense of self, sense of calm.  Somewhere in his last two jobs, he ‘lost’ himself, and searching for calm and work is both unnerving and frustrating.  I certainly these emotions and wonder how many millions of similar conversations are taking place around the country and the world at this exact moment.

But he needs to stay calm and answer interview questions.

What does he want?  To work.

Other people’s actions and thoughts keep popping into our discussion, blurring his focus.   Hints of arguments and need for his way to be the right way coat the surface of his interview experience, smothering possible opportunities.  His non-verbal expression http://face-and-emotion.com/dataface/general/guide.jsp overpowers his words.

One way to improve his interview technique – and nonverbals – is to practice answering questions while looking at a mirror.  Practicing till calm will enhance his success.

(http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2011/02/07/your-nonverbal-communication-can-wreck-your-interview/ for more info)

Focus:  What does he want?  To work.

We cycle through his wants washed with emotions, wringing out interview wrinkles.

Sharing advice I’ve heard from district managers:  make your boss look good,  is easy to apply to S.’s skills.  Great customer service and sales, his forte, will make any boss look good.  Arguing with his boss over how and what to do, well, not so much.

A smile slowly relaxes his body, adding a nod and realization.   After reviewing a few more strategies to build on his strengths, focus on his wants, and identify new doors to knock on.   S. shakes hands with confidence.

Bryant Park is great entertainment destination this time of year. Ping pong tables offer a chance to blow off steam and practice showmanship.

I wish him luck.

And best of luck with tackling your challenges this week.

I’ll be back in Bryant Park on Wednesday (if it doesn’t rain).  I’m moving into the present:   tweeting/twittering about communication essentials and where to find ‘A Talk in the Park’

Share what’s on your mind!