Saturday, October 15

Seth Godin: Open conversations

A guy walks into a shop that sells ties. He's opened the conversation by walking in.

Salesman says, "can I help you?"

The conversation is now closed. The prospect can politely say, "no thanks, just looking."

Consider the alternative: "That's a [insert adjective here] tie you're wearing, sir. Where did you buy it?"

Conversation is now open. Attention has been paid, a rapport can be built. They can talk about ties. And good taste.

Or consider a patron at a fancy restaurant. He was served an old piece of fish, something hardly worth the place's reputation. On the way out, he says to the chef,

"It must be hard to get great fish on Mondays. I'm afraid the filet I was served had turned."

If the chef says, "I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your meal..." then the conversation is over. The patron has been rebuffed, the feedback considered merely whining and a matter of personal perspective.

What if the chef said instead, "what kind of fish was it?" What if the chef invited the patron back into the kitchen to take a look at the process and was asked for feedback?

Open conversations generate loyalty, sales and most of all, learning... for both sides.
-- Seth Godin, Open conversations (or close them)
I love Seth's blog. Often, after reading one of his posts, and I'll look at the world -- even if it's only one small corner of it -- in a new way. Take his post on opening conversations, above. He is right! Rather than saying, "Can I help you?" when someone comes into the store, say, "Hey, I love your handbag, where did you buy it?" That opens the conversation. "Can I help you?" gives the customer an obvious out, just say: No thank you. No further interaction.

It's common sense, but I'd never have thought of it in just that way.

Now, how do we apply this to writing?

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