Selling things has never been one of my favorite activities. Growing up we had a homeschool business. It was supposed to teach us responsibility and how to run a business. The idea was my mother’s. Granted, the business was never something I cared for and I often found that it was more trouble than it was worth. Fast forward to my life after high school. Finishing at age 17 caused me to evaluate my life. I decided to take some time off and enroll at a community college for a few classes before going away to college. During this period of time I decided to get a job. So I found one selling knives. It wasn’t a bad job for people who are naturally a bit more extroverted or have the gift of gab. I had neither. The job involved going to various houses and demonstrating the product and taking orders. While I didn’t care for it, I did sell several thousand dollars worth of knives. It wasn’t a horrible experience but definitely a reminder that selling knives was not my calling in life. Neither was cold calling people asking to come into their homes for a demonstration. But I survived the experience and vowed to never ever sell anything again. As I’ve gotten a little older I’ve come to realize that so much in life depends on the way that you can sell yourself. While you don’t have to be cocky, there’s a way to communicate that you have the knowledge and skillset to complete a task. I think that’s why first impressions are so important. Once that happens, it’s a lot more difficult to challenge perceptions of you that have already been formed by that first impression. I think that’s why it can be good to cultivate the appearance of a calm demeanor. People want a calm person around them because it feels emotionally safe as opposed to someone who is frantic all the time.
Last night I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation about diversity vs. inclusion that was by far the best one I’ve heard on the topic to date. The topic of diversity is something that has been played out. Yet, it’s a conversation that continues to happen because it’s still needed. Interestingly, the presenter brought out the fact that a discussion around inclusion can be much more fruitful than continuing to go down the path of diversity training. The thing about inclusion training is that it involves everyone. You aren’t expecting the one person of color in the room to speak on their race and there’s a reduction in the frustrated sighs of people who are subjected to yet another lecture in diversity. The funny thing is that when everyone feels included, diversity will happen naturally and not feel so forced. People will be more comfortable having open dialogue about topics that aren’t deemed politically correct. One thing that speaker brought attention to was Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you want to know more about it, google is just a few clicks away. To put it simply, we have to be aware of where people are on the hierarchy and learn to relate to them at that level. The speaker brought out the fact that when a group of people is worried about their basic needs (food, water, shelter, etc) an intellectual talk on an abstract topic will never interest them. It’s not relevant to their world at the moment and doesn’t fit into the current needs that they have. By the same token, if someone is higher up on the hierarchy then a discussion about basic needs or safety immediately feels like someone is talking down to them or isn’t on their level. A while ago, I did a post about being exclusive and while I think that there is an appropriate setting for that type of thing, the workplace isn’t it. Most people would agree that it’s a lot easier to get everyone on board with a particular plan or goal if you give everyone partial ownership of the plan. While this doesn’t mean that you delegate duties in a hundred directions, it means that you are deliberately inclusive and give everyone a part to play. People tend to feel happier about their job, themselves, and their projects when they feel that they are a valuable player in the equation.