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Is your answer to 'what do you do?' acting like a crazed Boy Scout?

Copyright (c) 2006-2021

In the United States, the Boy Scouts of America have a reputation for helping little old ladies across the street. Isn't that nice?

You would think so, but what if these strapping young men in blue uniforms were grabbing unsuspecting elderly women, and slinging them over their shoulders? Imagine thousands of our honored elders being bodily forced across streets, with cries of "Put me down, you big brute!"

Doesn't seem so nice, does it? Yet, many people in business are flinging their resistant customers across streets every time they answer the question, "What do you do?"

How do most people answer that ever-present question? Here are two examples:

"We get teams working together." "We get you into optimal health."

Well, those don't seem so violent. But, what's really going on?

Two words are missing

Which two words? The words "who want." Without those two words present in your 'what do you do' answer, two things happen.

The first thing is that it keeps the attention on you. You are the one doing whatever it is you do, to teams, to health, to whatever. The spotlight is on you, and you end up in a very subtle way singing the "Me - Me - Me" chorus.

The second thing is that it tells the person what you're going to do, no matter what. "I'm going to pick those teams up and carry them across the street, no matter how many hand bags they hit me with."

A little intimidating, yes?

By adding in the words "who want" you eliminate the crazed Boy Scout syndrome.

"We help teams who want to work together." "We help people who want optimal health."

It's a small change, but powerful.

An experiment for you to try

Try saying the first example phrases above, and then take a moment to listen to your heart. How does it feel? When I've done this in my marketing classes, there seem to be two different reactions that are common. One is an "Oh, that sounds interesting," kind of reaction.

The second reaction is a feeling of a wall. The phrase lands, and, bam, you're stopped. That's what they do, and there is nowhere else to go.

What do you notice?

Now say the two phrases above that include "who want" and then listen to your heart. Universally in class participants have noticed that there might be a little 'zing' missing that they noticed in the first phrases. But, instead of the 'zing' they felt an openness, an invitation. Somewhere to go.

Too often folks go for a 'zing' in their 'what do you do' answer. But, you don't need a zing, and sometimes a zing will stop people in their tracks.

Doesn't it seem friendly, and more useful to have an invitation and opening?

"We help our honored elders who want to cross the street." If the Boy Scouts are only helping folks who actually want to get across traffic safely, well, then, God bless them, they're earning their good reputation.

Keys to Crossing the Street (But only if you want to.)
  • Forget about what you do.

    Even if you work with teams, you don't actually 'get them working together.' It's not only an energetic wall, it's a little bit of a lie, isn't it? You may teach, facilitate, offer, instruct, process or otherwise work with team members, but the teams, with your help, get themselves working together.
  • What do they want, in their own words?

    If you can identify how your best customers name what they want, you'll be sending an invitation that they want to receive. If you are a naturopathic doctor, 'optimal health' is probably not how your patients describe what they want. What is it that they say when they make an appointment? "I just want to get rid of the pain." "I'm tired of feeling so tired."

    Thus, "I help people who want to get rid of the pain."

    You can say this with integrity, because you aren't saying that you will get rid of their pain. If you are a naturopathic doctor, you know that the body heals itself, and that pain can actually be a sign of health, depending on the situation.

    But, you are promising to help and support people who want to get rid of the pain. It creates an invitation for a more profound discussion about how you do that.
  • Listen more closely.

    The people who come through your business are giving you a lot of information. Since you want to help them, and be in service to them, by listening to the words they say, and making notice of different phrases and words you hear from them a lot, you can create an answer to 'what do you do' that really strikes a chord.

    And don't forget to look both ways before you cross.

    The best to you and your business,

    Mark Silver


    About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
    Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How Money, Marketing and Sales can Deepen Your Heart, Heal the World, and Still Add to Your Bottom Line. He has helped hundreds of small business owners around the globe succeed in business without losing their hearts. Get three free chapters of the book online: http://www.heartofbusiness.com

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