Tips from a 3 year old
Recently I went to my daughter’s school to host a birthday lunch for her. 12 tiny little bodies running amuck, I wondered how the classroom teachers and aides could stand the various 2 and 3 year olds yelling, crying, runny noses and just all together chaos. My husband and I stood to the side, appalled yet mesmerized by what was happening around us.
As I sit back and think about what happened that day, I realized there was actually a lot to learn if I just took the time to really pay attention.
For starters, the classroom was set up with several different play areas. The kids knew the toys for each area had to stay in that space and when they were done playing there, they had to clean up before they could move on. In the workplace, distractions are common often leaving a trail of half-finished projects or assignments. To truly be effective throughout the workday, it is best to clean up and finalized projects before moving on to new ones. It’s the loose ends that can make or break a project. Is it easy to walk away without putting the last piece of the puzzle away? Sure. But if you do, how can you be successful in future projects if you never complete the first?
Next, I learned the squeaky wheel really does get the oil. There was a little girl who was hell-bent on going home. She stood in the center of the room and screamed for nearly 2 hours straight. Her parents, afraid to leave, her hid in the observation booth, the mom would come out and try to calm her, distract her, and then slip away. It never worked. Finally, she made herself sick and with that the parents took her home. She probably spent the rest of the day sitting on the couch watching her favorite show eating an unending supply of goldfish. She taught a valuable lesson though and it is persistence. In this industry, like others, there are a lot of competitors out there and if you want to be the go-to guy, you have to be persistent. Persistent in meeting new people, learning new skills, trying new things. You will never be able to move forward in life, your career, your relationships without going for what you want, even if you are told no.
Finally, the soft sell approach truly is the best approach. These kids used their manners and got whatever they wanted. From, “Can I read a different book” (even though the teacher was half way through one already) or “Can we listen to the popcorn song” (instead of painting like there were insistent upon just a mere 5 minutes before), these kids were given what they wanted. In business it is no different. From the beginning of my career, I was taught clients want to feel they are making the decision and not being sold to. Even these little manipulators understood that. Asking a client the right to move on, “Is it ok for me to set up a time to meet with you”, or “Would you mind if I showed you a few life insurance options for you” allows the client to feel like they are in control of the conversation. It creates a mood where they don’t feel like they are being sold to and thus they don’t feel pressure in buying from you. However, what you are really doing is showing them you respect them and at the same time, providing them with the information they need to make a decision. Your presentation will naturally do the selling for you. These kids sold to their teachers the next activity before the teachers even understood what was happening.
So to sum it up, yes the classroom appeared crazy and dysfunctional to an outsider but once observed a bit more closely they were actually future business professionals in the making. From your future project managers, to your future lobbyists to your future presidents, these kids understood the need to see things through, be persistent and to use manners if they wanted to be successful.