How can I hope to explain, in only a few words, what might be the most powerful force in world? It’s a huge topic. In many ways you might say it’s the Holy Grail of subjects. It’s what we all search for, love and passion. But maybe the real issue isn’t love but passion. Are they the same? I don’t think so. Love seems selfless and has a giving nature while passion is often selfish and all about taking. But without passion is real love even possible? Maybe not. But let’s deal with these one at a time.
PsychologyToday talks about the different types of love. The first is Eros or passionatelove. You can also think of this as romantic love. It’s a madness that comes over us and carries us away, but can also cause need and dependency.
The second is Philia, commonly called brotherly love; a relationship based on trust, dependability, and friendship. PsychologyToday mentions that Philia, born from Eros, in turn feeds back to Eros, strengthening each. Friends are able to live fuller lives by teaching and supporting each other.
It’s been proven that most relationships start with physical attraction.
First, a glance, then some words and next a touch. But we often mistake this Eros love for the kind that lasts. I believe without Philia love, Eros will fade and might not come back. So we chase it from partner to partner.
We light the fire, it warms that part inside that yearns for someone to fill our emptiness. The flames are so bright that we’re sure it’s eternal, but alas, it’s not. Is it our fault or maybe our partner’s fault? We’re not sure who’s to blame, but we know it’s gone. Physical love is only temporary, but maybe it can be made permanent if you understand the secret. If I tell you the secret, it won’t be a secret, now will it? But I guess it could be our secret. So if you promise not to tell, I’ll share it with just you.
Erotic or physical love burns so hot that no fuel can keep it burning at such intensity. It bursts into flame, has its moment and then dies back to embers. In fact, if that intensity continued we would all be devoured by the fire, left as ash to be swept away by time. So how can this magic, that is so temporary, be rekindled? Although the flame may die down but the glow from the embers can last forever, if fanned from time to time. To have the opportunity to rekindle the flame, love based on friendship must reside.
Let’s talk about friendship and why it’s the glue that holds the relationship together and allows the fire to burn again. Friendship is all about trust. Trust creates the foundation from which embers can again become an inferno.
If friendship requires trust, then building and maintaining trust is necessary for passion to return. Trust is built as promises are made and kept, not just big promises but ALL promises. Each promise made, and kept, goes in the trust bank account and as the bank account builds, trust deepens and the friendship is built. But remember, trust is not given, it’s earned. Something that is given can come quickly, but that which is earned is built over time.
A relationship built slowly one brick at a time, one promise at a time, can withstand the storms that will surely come. A relationship built too quickly may not weather even the first winds that life can deliver. A relationship built on trust and fashioned over time into a solid foundation becomes the platform on which to build a lifetime of passion.
Passionate love is like walking on the high wire; exhilarating but frightening at the same time. There is danger but there’s also an amazing rush; a pounding of your heart and a quickening of your breathing but don’t fear, your friendship is your safety net.
Lovers that aren’t friends are like leafs on a tree. For most trees, they’re only temporary. They look beautiful but when the season is done, they are gone.
Think of it this way. The flames burn bright but die to a glowing ember. Trust allows you to protect the ember and gives you the foundation to fan the flame again. In great relationships this happens again and again and again. Passionate love is temporary but returns again as trust is rewarded with passion. A lasting relationship needs to be built on a foundation of trust and friendship.
Lovers are usually focused on their own satisfaction but the explosion that comes with passionatelove is something we all want and desire. On the other hand, true friends are focused on the needs and wants of their friend. It would seem to be a perfect combination. A loving couple who can combine the fire that comes from passion with the caring, giving nature of their friendship has themagic. They provide a safe place from which to experience passionatelove. A place where each person is focused on the pleasure of the other. A tight wire with a safety net.
That’s why I am absolutely convinced that lovers who have and keep themagic also have a strong friendship as their foundation.
Through the presidential primaries and even after the election was decided, I heard that small business in America was the driving force for new jobs. That’s so important because I believe that the answer to most problems in our country is jobs. Pure and simple. People who have jobs that allow them to support their families don’t have time to riot in the streets, break store windows and get pushed back by water cannons. Without jobs, the masses see no future. No way up or even out. Jobs bring pride in accomplishment. Hard work, whether mental or physical, can provide an outlet for creativity and invention. I believe most people want to work, but when there are no jobs, people are easily swayed and manipulated. In America we need more GOOD jobs.
So, back to small business. Can they bring more jobs? Sure they can. Could they create enough jobs to pull the economy up by its bootstraps? Maybe. Here’s what the SBA states:
⚪ 28 million small businesses in America account for 54% of all U.S. sales.
⚪Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs, and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970’s.
⚪ 600,000 franchised small businesses in the U.S. account for 40% of all retail sales.
But percentages can be deceiving. What about the number of new jobs? Ok. Let’s look. Since 1990, big business eliminated 4,000,000 jobs while small business added 8,000,000 new jobs. So, great work small businesses, we owe you a lot. But creating enough new jobs is like moving a mountain and will take a partnership between big and small business.
Looking back in history, we see that the Ottomans came up with a unique strategy when faced with sailing past the big cannons at Constantinople. They took their ships out of the water, pulling them on the shore using logs and ropes. This got them safely out of reach of the big guns. Every man, woman and child had to pull their weight. It took a total effort with no time to rest.
That’s what it will take in this country. America the beautiful. America the brave. America the strong. So grab the rope. Do what you can, and of this nation speak no ill. The future is what we make it, bright or dark. Words aren’t enough to pull this ship, called America, across the land and out of cannon fire. GRAB THE ROPE. IT’S OUR JOB TO KEEP AMERICA GREAT. Yes, I believe small business can add jobs, but they can give us more, much more.
It occurs to me that most successful small businesses have several things in common. This is at least true of the ones I have been fortunate to work with. Let me show you the common characteristics.
Honesty, sounds simple and is easy to say, but not so easy to find today. Being honest requires making promises and keeping them. This builds trust and trust keeps us going. How much do we trust the big companies we deal with? I think you would find our attitude about big companies much like Ronald Reagan’s thoughts about Arms Control. When speaking to Mikhail Gorbachev, he said “Trust but verify.” Small businesses must rely on their reputation to be successful. No one wants to do business with a company that they think is dishonest.
Small businesses often survive or fail based on repeat business. Repeat business is a product of fair pricing, high quality and follow up. How many times has a big company called you after you bought their product to see if you like it? It does happen, but you must admit, it’s rare. Small businesses have to follow up, because their customers must not only be satisfied, they must be elated.
Next comes integrity. You might say that’s the same as honesty, but let me disagree. In my mind, honesty is making promises and keeping them, walking the talk, and doing what you say. Integrity might go a step further. Integrity means doing more than what you promise. If you begin a task and find there is an alternative that is a better solution, offer that alternative. Look for ways of being better than even the customer expects. Don’t just fix things. Fix them so they don’t break again. Truly understand the needs of the customer and the resources the customer has to fix the problem and then tailor a solution to fit. If there is something better, even if you don’t have that product or service, don’t be afraid to say so. So, integrity is really honesty after it has spanned the test of time and held up against the fires of unjust criticism. When you have honesty, integrity, quality at a fair price and great follow up, you only need one more thing. Hard work.
I’ve discussed honesty and integrity, but what about quality at a fair price? Quality is a lot like value, it’s mostly in the eyes of the customer. Quality could be seen as meeting the expectations of the customer. A quality product might be one that out performs other products in its class or category. High quality might even surpass average or normal expectations since its performance is critical to support the product or service produced or offered by the customer.
That leaves follow up. If you don’t follow up with your customers, how will you know if they’re elated or not? Follow up gives you the feedback necessary to make adjustments to your service or product to improve and retain that customer. It closes the circle of continuous improvement. If you underperform and your follow up either doesn’t occur or takes too long, the laws of disconnect engage and your lost business will increase. Also, without follow up, you won’t know why things aren’t going so well. So there’s a good chance you’ll blame it on some easy target like the global economy or unfair competition. The fact is you just missed the target.
What’s a fair price? A book could be written about fair pricing, in fact many books. But here’s a simple way I look at it. A fair price is one when the price of your product or service matches the value that it brings to the customer and the quality meets expectations. But you also must look at it another way. A fair price is one that allows the provider of the product or service to make a reasonable profit. If you don’t price to make a profit you will be out of business and no longer able to provide that quality product or service. In this case, everyone loses. As a business it is your responsibility to run your business in a profitable manner.
In a small business if you are honest, have integrity, good follow up, and work really hard, you get to eat that week. If you forget one of those attributes, you might go hungry.
So,why are small businesses the canary in the coal mine? When mining for coal, miners could be exposed to dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide. They would carry a cage containing a canary down into the tunnels. The canary was much more sensitive to the gases then were the miners. If the canaries started to die, the miners would evacuate the tunnel to safety. The canaries were an early warning of eminent danger. Small businesses are this canary. If they fail, it means that one or more of these critical attributes are missing or lost. If it’s missing here don’t you also think it might be missing in big business as well? This trend has me concerned and you should be concerned too. When the canaries are getting sick and dying, the miners aren’t far behind.
Here’s my simple formula: Perform honestly, act with integrity, deliver quality, price reasonably, and follow up to make sure the customer is completely satisfied. I believe the young people of today will punish those companies that don’t heed this simple formula.
In my next blog I’ll share with you some of the small businesses that I’ve dealt with that are great examples of these principles.
About 10 years ago, I got a device that has changed my business and personal life, and not necessarily for the best. It was a BlackBerry cell phone. As I carried it in a holster that clipped over my belt, I suddenly felt armed and dangerous. I was connected 24/7 and somehow thought this would make me more productive. And maybe it did, in some ways.
I remember one evening when the impact of my new device showed its ugly head. I was at dinner with my wife. It wasn’t a special occasion, but as I’ve told her many times, any evening with her is special. We sat outside, under a clear Texas sky at a local restaurant, and as our drinks arrived she asked, “Would you like to be alone with your BlackBerry?” I was stunned realizing I had been so busy responding to emails that I hadn’t really noticed her, or the new dress she wore just for tonight. I turned off the phone and gave it her to put in her purse. I told her I was surprised, but also embarrassed to find myself so distracted in that way. I’d like to tell you that I learned my lesson and this never happened again, but bad behavior has a way of resurfacing.
Let me circle back to my first sentence, “It changed my business.” Before smart phones, the business worked like this: a customer or employee would call and if they couldn’t reach me they could call the office and leave a message for me to return their call. 95% of the messages were not an emergency and asked that I call back at my earliest convenience. I would look at the international origin of the call and plan my return call accordingly. If it was an emergency, I would return the call immediately no matter what the time difference.
Those days are gone. Since my business is global, I get emails, texts and messages 24 hours a day and often the expected response time is NOW. However, the business itself hasn’t changed that much. 95% of the problems are still not urgent and could easily be handled the next day. The business may not have changed but the expectations of the customers and employees has changed significantly. The expected return response from me is immediate. Casual has been raised to important and important to urgent. What was excellent response time is now expected. So, is my job more productive? I’m really not convinced it is. Am I working harder than before? Absolutely. Harder, but not better. Not a very good trade.
We visited the island of Koh Somui after a business trip to Bangkok. It is off the eastern coast of Thailand and has beautiful beaches and wonderful people. After dinner, Debby and I walked down the beach to a club where people sit on big pillows on the sand and enjoy island drinks. Listening to the waves and the music under a starry sky was truly romantic. This is what we saw.
But not everyone enjoyed the romantic ambiance as we did. A young couple sat on the pillows just in front of us and never looked at the waves, the moon, or the stars. I’m not sure they ever looked at each other. Both were on their smart phones the whole time texting or tweeting or something. This is what they saw.
What happened to soft words of love spoken at just the right moment?
At dinner, just a few nights ago, I watched a couple seated at the table across from us. She was trying to parent their unhappy 6 year old while the dad never looked up from his phone. Present but absent. Any guesses whether that couple was connected or not? She was struggling with her job as a parent while he had electronically taken himself away from that responsibility. What message did that send? To his son it said, “I am not interested in your problems or needs. I have more important things to attend to.” Then, to his wife or partner, “This is your job to parent him and it’s probably your fault he’s misbehaving. If you were a better mother this wouldn’t happen.” What is she thinking, “My parents never approved of you before we got married. They said you wouldn’t be a good father, and maybe they were right. I deserve better.” I wanted to go over, take his phone away and ask him to be a parent. Of course I didn’t. It’s not my monkey. If this problem isn’t my monkey, how come I feel it biting and scratching me?
Any time I see people trade their humaness for electronicness, I feel the uncomfortable sensation of loss. Loss of what you may ask? Loss of the connection that comes with eye contact, speech inflection and body language. Without those things, aren’t we becoming less human? I believe we are. As we lose the nuances of human communication we lose the ability to completely express emotions: love, anger, empathy, concern, desire, joy, etc. When you can’t see my face or hear my words, my intentions can be easily misunderstand.
Steve Bartlett, CEO of Social Chain, is an award winning entrepreneur and speaker. He takes things a step further, believing social media may be making us sick. Take a look.
The passion of the another moment was destroyed by the electronic vehicle I used and its lack of humanness. Debby and I had a very wonderful dinner and evening together. The next day I wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked that night. This is what I intended to text, “Last night you looked so beautiful, you were absolutely delicious.” I misspelled delicious, so the spell check changed the word and the text said this, “Last night you looked so beautiful, you were absolutely deciduous.” Now, those of you that know your tree terminology know that deciduous is a term used for trees that lose their leaves in the winter. Her text back to me said: “I was WHAT?” Love’s moment lost.
I heard a very interesting discussion about Millennials on NPR the other day. There were many parts to the topic, but there was one I found especially interesting. A Fortune 500 company manager was discussing hiring new employees. He made a comment that concerns me, “Millennials just don’t interview well.” I wondered if they were lacking in verbal skills because of social media. Was it possible that their non-verbal skills, like body language, just haven’t developed? Or maybe they can’t express themselves in more than 140 characters followed by an emoji.
Just the other day, a friend was talking about the disconnect he was having with his girlfriend, “She just doesn’t give good text.” Is that what the love connection has come down to, givinggoodtext? I hope not.
Even worse, what about passive-aggressive texts? Take a look at Jimmy Kimmel’s explanation.
Many young people think that electronic connection makes us more connected. I must take exception. In many ways we may be moving toward disconnection or at least a false connection. I have seen people say things to each other while texting that they would never say in person. Does the texting generation, share intimate details on text that they would never say In person? Are they more comfortable texting than talking face to face? Without voice inflection and body language, misunderstanding is common place. We may paint a picture with our words that is totally foreign from who we really are. So what happens when we finally meet this texting partner? It is often disappointment and unmet expectations. If you want to know if your partner is sincere, watch their eyes. The eyes are windows to the soul. Words in a text are not.
I hate to predict the future, but I will just this once. If we continue to hide behind our social media mania and lose our gift of face to face communication, we risk losing any hope of meaningful connection. If you are a baby boomer you probably agree with me. If you are a Millenial and disagree, I challenge you to try this. Turn off your phone, sit down with a friend and have a meaningful face to face conversation. Then, savor the experience of connection.
Before I jump off this cliff, let me tell you I am not a professional in these matters. Although I’ve left a few broken relationships by the roadside as I motored through life (driving a bit too fast while listening to rock and roll blaring on the radio) I am not trained in marriage counseling. I guess that makes me knowledgeable by experience if not by education. I’m a student of life, educated in the classroom of experience. I have been both an observer and a participant. I have watched what worked in relationships and what failed. I began observing these scenarios at a very early age.
My childhood years had my family living in more than 20 cities by the time I was five. My dad was on an oil exploration crew so our address was either the motel we were in today or the one down the road where we’d be tomorrow. My mom said their nights were filled with loud music, dancing and lots of drinking. But somehow Dad got up the next day and did it all over again. In most of the motels there was not a baby crib so I slept in a drawer. As far as I know, they kept the drawer open!
By the age of 5, I knew that when a voice was raised over a normal level something bad was about to happen. Antagonistic tones could be loud but really soft tones were just as terrifying. These things I learned closer to the age of 10, as I sat quietly listening and wondering why. I found that anger was frightening but even worse was disappointment. Angry tones could come quickly but soon faded. The words of disappointment hung in the room like the smoke from too many cigarettes. By the time I reached junior high I realized that my parents were just staying together for me. They were committed to being parents for my sake. But don’t misunderstand, one thing I knew with certainty was that I was loved. Unconditionally loved. And knowing I was loved was enough. It was enough.
My blogs deal with the joy of connection and the pain of disconnection . I was deeply connected to both my parents but I could see their disconnection from each other. I would say I learned much in my early years by observing but I have learned even more in the 35 years I’ve been married, not by observing but by living and loving.
I have a great marriage, and it is great because we work at making it that way every day. A friend once asked, “Aren’t there just days when you can coast?” The answer is a resounding “NO.” A relationship is just like a car. When you put it in neutral, you’re going nowhere. This is true in business relationships as well as personal ones. But for this blog, let’s get personal.
To examine actions that could reconnect a relationship it’s important to know the extent of the disconnect. Let me explain my reasoning. If I think about friends’ marriages I have tried to save over the last 30 years, I am batting zero. I haven’t been able to save even one. If you were hoping I had some magic advice that could put things back together, I’m sure you’re getting a little concerned at this point. Before you give up on me let me explain my poor score. In each case the marriage was completely disconnected. The distance between them was too far and they had suffered the pain for too long. There was no way back. They were each lost in a sea of lies and disappointment. All my help accomplished was to delay the inevitable. I know this sounds hopeless and depressing, but there really is hope. Many relationships can be saved long before the final divide. Let’s focus on those.
There is a change in relationships that happens but is not part of the disconnect. It is a time of adjustment. This is not the beginning of disconnect, butrathera reversal of connectionadvocates within the relationship. Let me explain. The partner that desires the connection the most will initiate actions to keep the connection intact. These actions could be physical or verbal but they have one main purpose, to maintain closeness. Within the relationship this responsibility to be the advocate who protects and maintains the connection will change from partner to partner throughout the life of the relationship.
This positioning might look like a weakening of the bond but, in fact, is only a natural handoff of the torch. In a good relationship the intimacy leadership role gets passed back and forth many times over the span of years. This is not only healthy but desirable. A colleague once said it perfectly when asked how he and his wife achieved a long and happy marriage. “We have been married a long time because we never fell out of love at the same time. One of us was enough in love to be willing to sacrifice and work on the marriage when the other had given up.” That’s an amazing statement, isn’t it? It may very well be the most important ingredient to a long and happy marriage.
When the relationship begins to disconnect, it comes in three stages. Three conditions that weaken the connection before full disconnect occurs.
The first part of this stage is unrealisticexpectations. When a relationship begins to develop we begin to have expectations about what it could become. The extent and the type of our expectations depends on many things. One thing that seems to be the most influential is our past experience. How were we treated as a child? Did we live in a world of reality? What was that reality? Did we learn to take responsibility for our own happiness or did we grow up depending on others to satisfy our needs, and did they? What causes some people to expect more from their partner than the partner is able or willing to give? I wish I knew the answer.
Unrealisticexpectations can be evidenced everywhere. When we expect more than a person has the ability to give, we lose. The people involved feel like they failed. I disagree with those who believe failure is a motivator. I believe, in a relationship more times than not, failure is just failure. Too many times in a relationship we believe our love or caring can cause the other person to rise above their level and become more. This might be true to some extent, but how much more can they grow is the question. Again, if we are unrealistic in our expectations then we both lose. But wait a minute, what if my expectations are unrealistic but I find this amazing partner who meets them all? First, pinch yourself because you are either dreaming or you are the luckiest person I’ve ever met. For now, let’s assume there is a remote possibility that an unrealisticexpectation could be met.
So maybe the real issue is not unrealisticexpectations but the second part of this stage, unmetexpectations, whether unrealistic or not. These expectations may be totally reasonable but still not met. What is reasonable for one person might be completely unreasonable for another. Reasonable depends on your frame of reference. We all see the world through different glasses. Each layer of the lens is crafted by our experiences, good and bad. It can be very hard to take off those glasses. Most people believe that meeting our basic needs is the least we should expect from a relationship. But these needs might still go unmet. You’re a loving person. You’re faithful and respectful. You deserve the same in return. Is that too much to ask?
Expectations may also change as we age. This can create problems when the expectations of one partner don’t change to meet the expectations or even the ability of the other. I have a son that is 26 years old. I asked him how his relationship expectations have changed since he was a teenager. He said that when he was younger he looked for a girlfriend that was fun to be with. That’s right, just fun and not much else. At 26 his expectations are different. He said he now looks for a girl that has parental qualities. Unsure of what he meant by parental, I asked him to explain. He told me that parental means nurturing, kind, thoughtful and looking out for your best interests. Someone mature enough to hold up her end of the relationship. A woman, not a girl. Seems reasonable to me.
So what about me? What are my expectations? I still expect honesty and faithfulness, but now more than ever, I expect passion. Passion can come in many packages. It can be defined in many ways. I like what Wikipedia says, “Passion may be an eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, discovery or activity or love.” Passion is the fuel that drives the soul.
Passion is the Fountain of Youth. Those that have a passion for the things life offers have the best chance to have a happy life. Life without passion is cold, dark and empty. Passion is the fire that continues to burn inside, but only if you keep adding fuel. Find something your passionate about and give yourself to it.
I don’t profess that we are all the same in our expectations, so you will find yours different than mine. We are often told that our desire naturally wanes. I don’t agree. It certainly is complicated if health becomes an issue, or if abuse, addiction, or adultery are involved. From the outside, it may look like we just give up and thus the disconnect. Passion is possible at any age. But without it, we age quicker than our years. Expectationsunmet, whether unrealistic or not, start the divide that becomes the start of the disconnect.
The first step in solving any problem is to accept a problem exists. In this case, the next step is to realize the problem may be of your own making. Begin by accepting others for what they are instead of what we expect them to be. Most of the experts agree that there are three paths to avoid or repair this disconnect from unmetexpectations.
First, make sure you’re aware of your expectations. Second, make them reasonable and third, talk about them to you partner. Try to experience life and not expect it. Experience not expectation. Let’s look at it another way. I would like to paraphrase what I remember from a movie called Parenthood. The grandmother in the family has witnessed the chaos that occurs when balancing a job, marriage, children and the world around. It gets pretty overwhelming. But she shares a story that has great insight. She says that when she was a little girl she would go to the amusement park. Bright lights and lots to do. Some children chose to ride the merry go round. But it just went around and around. What’s the fun in that? She loved the roller coaster. The ups and the downs. The thrill. The excitement.
Life is about experiencing, not sitting back observing and definitely not going around and around, seeing the same things again and again. It’s easy to start out idealistic, but no one can live up to our idealistic view of what life should be. We need to become realistic not idealistic. I would like to share with you what my wife calls a Steveism.
When I find myself feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with my life, it means I’m thinking too much about myself and not enough about others.
The second step in avoiding or handling unrealisticexpectations is communication. Talk often and talk openly to your partner. Don’t avoid the difficult topics. Put them on the table and negotiate how they can be handled. Sometimes when you explain your expectations, you might find your partner is very willing to meet those needs. They just might need to be stated another way. But you also need to be willing to compromise. A good relationship is a product of give and take. I have another Steveism that works for us.
He who has the most emotion at risk or invested in a subject should get special consideration in the decision.
Let me give you an example. When Debby and I were deciding whether to move our children to a private faith centered school or to leave them in public schools, I really wasn’t in favor of the private school for two reasons. First, the money. It seemed crazy to pay for private school when my taxes were already paying for the public schools in my area. Second, the public schools in our area were great schools. So for me they could get a good education in our public schools at a lot less cost to our family. On the other hand, my wife had a very deep feeling about this decision. For her it was an emotional decision that would change their lives. So who had the most emotion invested? She did. So you guessed it. They were transferred to the faith based school. I won’t give you all the details of the amazing things that occurred, but I will tell you that my wife was right. Let me give you another Steveism.
Trust your feelings. This is another strategy that may help soften the disappointment of unmetexpectations and therefore mitigate the damage. You might call this tactic the early warning system. The best way to explain it is to give you another personal example. My wife and I had decided that Friday night would be date night. A great dinner out somewhere followed by a romantic evening. Her heart was in the right place but the flu bug made the evening impossible. So does she wait till I get home to tell me? No. There’s a better way. She calls and tells me how much she was looking forward to our date but she feels awful. Could we postpone the date a day or two till she feels better?
What makes this work? It’s what she says next. “I’m disappointed to postpone our date, but you deserve my A game. Thanks for understanding, I’m really looking forward to being together. Would Saturday night work?” Because she was the one who must postpone the date, she is responsible for setting the new date and time.
So how did I feel after her comment? I felt loved, wanted and even more, desired and isn’t that what I really wanted anyway? My wife and I have a name for this. We call it giving goodphone. More on that later!
Steve Haberly Thenextblogwillexplorethesecondstagedisconnect, Promises Broken – Words Said in Anger
If you read the first of my blogs you learned that almost everything of any value comes from and depends on connection. You may also have realized when the connection is broken, all can be lost. I hate to be melodramatic, but I really do mean ALL.
In the second blog I wrote about some of the rules that govern our attempt to reconnect. Understanding these rules helps us understand why reconnection is so difficult. Disconnection inrelationshipsis common and in many cases, permanent. Remember the salesman who became disconnected from his customer and eventually lost that account? In this blog I want to address the need for connection in our personal life and the tragedy of disconnect.
You may be familiar with the term “bar bet.” It is the bet we make with a friend or even a stranger in a social environment. It’s usually on some trivial fact. Maybe it’s who won the 1945 World Series or the first Super Bowl or which team will win the game being shown on the bar television. Many times the person who initiates the bet already knows the outcome, so I guess you could say it’s really a trick. Not very serious, just for fun and maybe a beer.
So, I’ll make you a bet just for fun. I’ll bet I can sit at a table in a restaurant and after 10 minutes tell you which couples are connected and the ones that aren’t. Here’s how I’ll do it. First, look at their eyes. The eyes are windows to the soul and surely to the heart. People that are connected make eye contact with the person or people they are with.
People that sit together, but are disconnected, tend to look around the room often past the other person. They may even continuously look at their smart phone or watch. They know if they make eye contact it may elicit an emotion or even a confrontation. That confrontation might bring up their disconnect and the struggle that would be necessary to reconnect is too much, just too much. So as my Grandfather used to say “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
Next, I look at their hands. If you lay your hand on the table at dinner with your hand open, palm up, you are asking to connect. Palm down means you are less sure that the feeling will be returned, so a palm down has less emotional risk if it gets rejected. But hands closed mean I am not willing to connect and I will not respond in a positive manner if you reach out to me. I am closed.
Next, look at their faces. Partners that are connected practice active listening. When one person is talking, the other is not only hearing the words but also feeling the emotion behind the words. That’s a form of active listening. I’m into your story, sad or happy. I want to experience it too, even if it’s after the fact. People who are not connected tend to show no facial emotion other than boredom.
Next, look at the other body language. Arms crossed often indicates disapproval but also possibly disconnect. Sitting forward in your chair signals a desire to connect while sitting back may signal lack of interest.
The ultimate goal of many relationships is happiness. When people are happy they often smile. So look at the faces at the tables and measure the smiles.
Now, think about the couples you have known over the last 10 years. First, consider those whose marriage ended in divorce. Think about the signs of the growing disconnect before they finally gave up. But what about the friends you have that are still together. Are there signs of disconnection? All you have to do is listen and watch. You’ll recognize the disease. The disconnect between people we love and care about is tragic. Our disconnect and our inability to repair the damage turns friends and lovers into strangers. Strangers in our own house and even in our own bed.
So when does this start? Disconnection at a personal level starts when we find ourselves thinking more about ourselves then we do about others.The selfish person lives a life of loneliness because true connection is nearly impossible. Today more than ever in our history, we live in a disconnected society of lonely people and misplaced trust. Look around you for those that are connected, but don’t be surprised what you find.
My daughter sat down with me several years ago and wanted to talk about the future. “What should I be when I grow up?”
I said, “You can be whatever you want to be. You could be a doctor, lawyer or even an Indian Chief.
She laughed and said “Dad, I’m serious.”
“Sweetheart, all I want is for you to be happy.”
“I want to be happy,too, but my friend Susan wants to be a dentist. She has her career path all planned out.”
So I asked my daughter to describe her ideal job.
“Something where I work with people. A job where I can make a difference. Something where I can be happy, but still make a lot of money”.
I said, “What about sales?”
“Dad, I don’t want to sell things. Sales doesn’t seem like a very noble profession to me. Talking people into buying things that they may not even need, seems a little shady.”
I thought for a moment and replied, “What if I told you that every profession and every job has one thing in common? Every job is a sales job, and I can prove it.”A great example is teaching, perhaps the most noble profession of all. The future of our country and the world are in the hands of our children and our children are in the hands of our teachers. Often times in this economy both parents must work full time to make ends meet. This results in our children spending more time with their teachers than their parents. Because of this, it is our teachers who shape the way our children see the world.
I was a teacher once and it was the best job I ever had. I taught 9th grade Science to kids who were not interested in facts as mundane as the age of the Grand Canyon. Although my lesson plans were fact filled, the students found them to be stale and boring. In my second year I came to a great realization, I had to sell Science to them. I needed to make it interesting and exciting because I was in competition for their attention. I became a seller of knowledge. Once I realized that, my classes became fun for the students and for me as well. The key was selling, selling them the magic of Science.
We come in contact with “salesmen” every day. Your doctor sells you on the belief medication he prescribes will cure your ills. Your mechanic sells you a tune up that will save you money on fuel. Your dentist sells you teeth whitening that will improve your smile. The teller at the bank sells you their credit card, proclaiming it is better than the card offered by the bank next door. And so on and so on. I can’t think of a profession that doesn’t at some level involve the presenting of an idea. That is sales. Sales is when you convince someone, including yourself, to do something. So don’t fool yourself. Everybody is selling something!Opportunities to sell happen every day. I remember an interesting opportunity shortly after getting married. Debby worked for a very prestigious Dallas real estate firm. The female agents never went anywhere without their clothes perfect, their nails painted, and their hair combed just so. They were the epitome of sophistication and grace.Then came the softball tournament. A variety of companies organized teams to raise money for a local charity. Debby talked the realtors into signing up to represent their company and their profession. It was a typical summer day in Dallas, Texas. As my grandfather used to say “100 degrees in the shade.” The ladies looked great. Outfits were color coordinated and varied from walking shorts to Capri pants, worn over panty hose of course.After two innings I could see their makeup beginning to melt and mascara ring their eyes. Then, in the third inning, it happened. A line drive straight at my third baseman. There was no time to react. The ball hit her just below the right eye where the skin is the thinnest and the check bone creates a hard under surface. She put her hands up to her face and bowed her head. When she looked up, there was blood everywhere. I called time out and rushed to the field. Both teams were speechless as they watched me help her back to the dugout. My pitcher broke the silence, “Coach, you didn’t tell us we could get hurt!” It was true, I had never mentioned the risk.
Finally, the game ended and the ladies headed toward their cars, hot, sweaty, and dirtier than they’d ever been. I stopped them, “Ladies, great game. You won!”
My team captain grinned, “Yay! Now it’s time to go soak in a hot bath.”
I smiled and said, “That sounds great, but since we won, you have another game in one hour.” They were in shock. I guess I hadn’t explained what single elimination meant. You play till you lose.
It was a day I will always remember. We won the next game and the one after that. Midway through the championship game I could see they were totally exhausted, but somehow they played even harder than before. As I walked through the dugout offering water, my shortstop said, “I don’t need a drink. Just pour it on my head!” So I did as asked. SPLASH.I wish I could tell you we won the tournament, but I can’t. We lost by one lousy run. I coached sports for many years after that, but have never been as proud of my team as I was that day. That team was a perfect example of courage and grace under fire.
Long story, I know, but the point is that day I was not just a coach, I was a salesman. I sold them the idea they could play through the heat, the pain, and sometimes the fear. I painted the dream and made them want it as much as I did. If that’s not sales, I don’t know what is.
Now that you realize all jobs are really sales jobs, it is time to improve your selling skills so you can be successful at any job. There is only one logical place to start. Connection.
My next blog will show you that the same skills necessary to connect in business relationships are just as important to have a personal relationships. Want to know why your relationship isn’t working? I’m willing to bet it’s because you are not connected.
After reading the previous blog you can now see that trust is a necessary part of building a successful relationship. Let’s explore that a little further, from a business standpoint.
One way to look at the sales situation is a simple analysis of price versus cost. Let’s define price as the dollar amount required to purchase a product or service, and cost as the price per unit of value. But remember, the customer is the one who defines value, not you or the company you represent. You might think that trust is only important when you’re selling a value proposition. This is not true. Even if you’re selling a product or service on price, the prospect must believe you can provide it at that low price and on time. That takes some level of trust. Selling on value is almost all trust driven. The customer must believe that the benefits your product or service delivers will provide them enough believable value to make choosing your company the smart choice.
This means whether you are selling on price or value it requires trust. Sounds simple, but where does trust come from? Trust is the product of connection. Continuedtrust deepens that connection. Let’s circle back to out subject. How can we connect with our prospects and customers, making the sale possible? As you may have guessed, most successful transactions can be traced back to successful relationships. The formula that works best is:
Oversimplifying the process? Yes, but I believe it is accurate. President Theodore Roosevelt once said “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” To build a relationship you must show the prospect that you care about them as a person and not just as a decision maker.
A good friend of mine always says, “First make a friend and then make a sale.” This approach has always made sense to me. If I think of selling as just making new friends then the whole process seems a lot less stressful. In fact, it’s kind of amazing that a company would pay you just to go out and make new friends! That’s not my whole job description but it is certainly the most critical part.
Before you can build a relationship with a prospect you have to get in front of the decision maker . Can you build that relationship over the phone or with email or even Twitter? I must admit, I am old school when it comes to relationship development. I might build some sort of relationship over these media avenues but it’s hard for me to believe it would be much more than superficial.A big part of building a relationship comes from face to face contact, body language, voice inflection, eye contact and so on. I don’t believe you can get that on social media. However, social media can play an important role and we can discus that later.Let’s assume you have gotten past all the gatekeepers that guard the decision maker’s time and here you are, face to face. I believe you should first thank them for the opportunity to meet with them. Second, show them that you know their time is important. Let them know you recognize the time you have in this first call is limited.
In a new call you probably don’t have a relationship established and therefore there is no trust established. Assure them you will be brief and to the point. You don’t build a relationship by starting a sales call talking about your products. Starting out by proclaiming the benefits of your product will probably fall on deaf ears. A good way to begin is by asking how long the decision maker has worked for the company and what they did before. Next, you can ask what areas fall under his supervision. This is a good opportunity to compliment the decision maker.
Now, find something you have in common. Share stories about your experiences. Practice active listening by paying close attention to the things the customer talks about and make comments that show you are really listening. Now you can briefly describe your company, your products or services, and the benefits they bring to the decision maker’s company.
⚪ Thank you for meeting with me.
⚪ I know, in your position, the demands on your times are huge. That’s why I will only take a few minutes. If I am here longer, it’s because you have an interest and maybe some questions.
⚪ That’s a lot of responsibility. How do you manage it?
⚪ If you don’t mind me asking,what’s the most important thing in management that has made you successful?
⚪ I appreciate you telling me that. Maybe we can talk more about that next time I’m here, if that’s okay.
⚪ Did you catch that fish in the picture? I’ve never caught one that big. How did you do it?
⚪ I promised I would not take too much of your time so let me tell you why I’m here.
⚪ I’m glad you’re interested. To be sure this is a perfect fit with your needs, I’ll need to find out more about your process.
⚪ I’d like to meet the person in your group that can show me around and answer a few questions. Then I will get back with you and we can see if you want to go further. If not, then I still feel like I made a new friend and you could do me a great favor. In my next visit let’s talk some more about your management style and how it has made this company so successful.
⚪ I really think I could learn some valuable things from your experiences.
Make a friend and build a connection. It’s an old school formula but it still works. TRUST ME.
I think you will find the next blog challenging as well as interesting. I will explain how all jobs and professions have one thing in common. They are all sales jobs, every one of them!
The last blog talked about a key ingredient that all successful professionals share. The ability to sell. The focus was on successful careers. What about selling within a personal relationship? A boyfriend and girlfriend or maybe a husband and wife. What about parents and children or between friends? I believe that selling is not only present in those relationships, but critical. Successful selling is made up of certain skills that are paramount in building relationships between individuals.
The first of those skills or abilities is listening. I usually talk about the difference between active and passive listening. But there is another type of listening, according to my wife. That’s selective listening. I used to think that selective listening was a term that was only used by marriage counselors to explain why I didn’t help with the dishes when asked. Here’s the deal. I had been watching the game when she asked me to help. It was 3rd and goal with only 60 seconds left. If I had taken time to explain why I couldn’t help right then, the play would have been over and the outcome of the game decided while I was in the kitchen. I was listening. Sort of.
However, as I reflect on my own experiences in personal and business situations, the term selectivelistening makes sense. Passive listening and selective listening can easily be confused. To me, passivelistening is listening without hearing. Selective listening is hearing only what you choose to hear. So, of these categories of listening, there is only one that builds a relationship…active listening. Active listening means paying attention to the details of the story and asking for clarification at times. It means making remarks that show understanding and interest. Let’s circle back to the title of this blog, Selling in a Personal Relationship. Here’s an important rule in business and personal connection development. There is no real communication without active listening and without communication there is no selling, therefore no connection. So, active listening is a critical building block in any relationship.
There are, of course, other selling skills that transcend business into our personal lives. One might be needs satisfaction. When I’m selling a product or service I must uncover the needs of my prospect before I can show that my proposal will satisfy those needs. It’s also impossible to build a meaningful personal relationship without understanding the needs of your friend or partner. How can I do what makes you happy if I don’t know what makes you happy? Uncovertheirneeds.
To uncover their needs, you must askgoodquestions. Asking good questions makes me a better father, husband, and friend. Questioning skills are the backbone of discovering the need you want to fulfill. Questioning isn’t necessarily an easy skill to learn and when undertaken clumsily can often do more damage than good. An example might be,”So, what did you get accomplished today?” This question seems to have a hidden meaning, making the other person feel defensive. Maybe it’s better to say “Tell me about your day.”
What if you ask your child, “Did you have a good day at school?” The answer you will get is probably “Yes.” With that brief answer you still don’t know more than you did before you asked it. Instead, you could ask, “What did you do at school that was really fun?” You just might get an answer that opens up the conversation to more specifics. Askgoodquestions.
In sales, we build a relationship by showing an interest in the hobbies and experiences of the prospect or customer. It’s the same when building a personal relationship. People love to talk about themselves, so encourage that discussion. Listen activelyby asking good questions . Make comments that show you have genuine interest.
Another powerful tactic to build any relationship is by asking the person to help you learn something or teach you something that you struggle with. “I would really appreciate some suggestions that might improve my golf game. Maybe you can give me some tips to improve my score.” Or, “It’s obvious you are very successful at managing people. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned that helps you manage successfully?” Or, “It’s always a struggle for me to know what to wear to these business parties, but you always seem to choose the right look. How do you do it?”
Or, “Wow! You put that Lego tower together so fast. It looks great. What’s your secret?” People will almost always try to help you, once you recognize their ability and honestly ask for help. Be humble. Ask for help. “I had a great time tonight. How about you continue helping me locate the rest of the planets over dinner next Friday?” Or, “Do you think we could build more things with your Legos after you get home from school? You’re so good at it.” “Thanks Mom. I’d love to show you what else we can build.” Or, “You’re such a good friend and I really appreciate you sharing your experiences with me. I think it will help me understand my boss better. I hope we can finish our conversation very soon. How about coffee at my house Saturday morning?”
The last selling skill I want to mention is the icing on the cake. The skill that completes the journey is closing the sale. In personal relationships, just like in sales, we never get what we desire unless we ask. Don’t be afraid. Get the idea? Askfortheorder.
The skills we use in building a personal relationship have a lot in common with the skills we use when selling a new account.
📌 LISTEN ACTIVELY
📌 ASK GOOD QUESTIONS
📌 UNCOVER THEIR NEEDS
📌 ASK FOR THEIR HELP
📌 ASK FOR THE ORDER
In my next blog you will learn to Recognize the Personal Disconnect and possibly save your failing relationship.
We can talk later about why the dog growls at you when you come home, why your kids won’t talk to you and why your partner is thinking about leaving you. Right now, let’s talk about why your business success is waning and your commission checks aren’t enough to pay for your next Starbucks latte.
What happened? You were a star and the salesman everybody voted “Most Likely to Get Rich.” You picked up the sales model quickly and your product knowledge was most impressive. You knew that organization was critical so you became the poster child for knowing where to go and when to be there.
In this tough economy the water was full of sharks and each one seemed to be circling your best prospects. But no worries, you had the confidence that came with your over developed ego. At least that’s what your ex-wife said. But then, you never really understood what she meant by that, did you?
When you started selling, you built a pretty big territory. A few customers bought your products in the beginning and you thought selling was easy. What you learned later was they just wanted something new and different and you happened to walk through the door at the right time.
However, you could never get the big orders no matter how hard you pitched them. Things were beginning to get desperate. The commission draw the company started you on was about to fade away just like your savings account and your new girlfriend! You were sure you could replace her, but the money was becoming a real issue. So you gave in. You watched all the YouTube videos showing expert after expert proclaiming their approach as the most successful in the market. You spent the next month using every trick in the trade. Call after call. New prospects. Old prospects. Even some that were only suspects and not really prospects! You swore if you heard “no” one more time you would change your name to “no” so when a prospect said “no” you could say “Yes, that’s me. My name is No, what can I do for you?”
Don’t waste any more time looking in the wrong place for the answers, here’s what you have to do. Go ask somebody who knows why people buy. Ask a customer. Contact some of the customers you lost and ask them why they bought from somebody else. Embarrassing yes, but at this point you really need to know why they chose your competitor. Was it lower price, cutting edge technology, or an incentive too hard to pass up?
Now, look at the current customers who buy a variety of products from other vendors. Since your connection with them is still good, ask them why they chose one company over another. What makes the difference between the winners and the losers?
You might expect a long explanation, but I’ve found that with each customer the answer came back the same. “TRUST.” Trust is the foundation of most decisions to buy. Trust is the fuel that drives business. It doesn’t matter how good the product sounds, without trust it’s only words. Words won’t make an airbag deploy safely or a vaccine cure a disease. Trust is not just one thing. It’s everything. Trust sounds simple, but where do you get some? How do you go from being an outsider to becoming an insider? You were a master of manipulation. You don’t need trust if you’re a master of manipulation, so you thought. But manipulation brought you to where you are now. Nowhere.
Where do you find trust? If you went back to those same customers you would probably hear that trust is built one promise at a time. Trust is keeping promises made. Trust is the result of listening to and understanding your customer’s needs. Trust is gained when you solve their problem first and worry about making a profit second.
You began to understand the power of trust and that it felt good; good somewhere deep inside. However, there was another word that the customers said when they mentioned trust. A word that you had heard before, but not in any YouTube you watched or any book you read. The word was connection . The salesmen and women that were held in highest esteem were trusted because they seemed to connect with the prospect and they were connected because they were trusted. Trusted and connected. Connected and trusted.
Successful sales people connect with the customer and through this connection theybuild trust. Selling the benefits of a product falls on deaf ears unless there is trust. Earning trust is the product of connection. Isn’t that what your ex-wife always said? “You don’t get it. We just aren’t connected. “
Maybe without connection you don’t get the order. You just don’t get it. What if the magic you have been looking for was there all the time but you had been listening to the wrong experts. The experts are the customers. The customers are really the only ones that know why they buy.
Ask the customer.
Thenext blog will give you specifics on how to build a connection with your prospects and customers.
In my first blog I explained connection . Now it is time to explore the disconnect, because a disconnect may result in loss of relationships, both business and personal. Understanding the disconnect is vital before attempting to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Yes, vital, but not simple by any means. There are four concepts I feel come into play when disconnection occurs.
First, the difficulty in repairing connection is directly proportional to the amount of time that has passed since the disconnect. The longer you have been lost, the harder it is to find your way back.
Second, the desire to reconnect is inversely proportional to the amount of time that has passed since the disconnect. If you have been disconnected too long, the desire to reconnect fades.
Third, and maybe most important, is the amount of effort required to reconnect is greater than the amount of gain received from the reconnection. It just doesn’t seem worth the effort. I have observed many marriages over the years where it is so obvious when they have reached the final realization, “It’s just not worth fixing.” The same is true in business.
Fourth, the amount of time that elapses before you react and attempt a reconnect is a direct indicator to the other person about how much you value the relationship.
Let me give you an example:
You and the customer have had a great relationship in the past and he always seems glad to see you during your regular calls at his location. This time his assistant says he is really busy and can’t see you. Next month you become really busy yourself and don’t get by his building to update him on the project progress.
The month after, you find yourself sitting in the waiting room while he meets with someone else. After what seems like forever, the assistant sends you in. You sit down and decision maker immediately looks at his watch and says he only has a few minutes. You say you understand and most of what you wanted to say can wait until next month.
Next, when you ask to see the manager, you are greeted by the purchaser who informs you that your contract is not being extended and the remainder of the project is being bid out. When you get back to your car you ask yourself, “How long ago did I first feel the relationship changing? Why didn’t I react?”
The amount of time that was allowed to pass has a direct effect on your desire to reconnect.
A disconnect ignored for too long is a connection forever broken.