Tag Archives: technique

2015-January Shinnyo Podcast – Awareness of Needs

2015-January Shinnyo Podcast – Awareness of Needs

  • Defining Selflessness
  • Qualifying our Conversations
  • Know Yourself as You Get to Know Others
  • The Difficult Task of Acting as Themselves

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Hitsuji - Year of the Sheep
calligraphy by Shinso Ito

From the Shinnyo 2015 Annual Guidance notes:

This year’s items of practice:

  1. Contributing to the world through selfless acts
  2. Nurturing good roots through practice

Guidelines are simple, until you read them. Let’s take a look at “selfless acts”  By definition those would be acts for anyone (or anything) other than yourself.  But if you thought someone needed something, isn’t that a selfless act? When you look in a mirror are you able to see yourself as others see you? This is why doctors and scientists invest so much of their education learning diagnostic and forensic routines, because really what you see and perceive is being filtered through a mind that was produced as the sum total of your entire life’s experiences (good and bad), and that results in an alteration of the perception.

The observation that “we are our own worst critics” is another way to see the same dilemma. We can’t judge ourselves very accurately nor constructively, so how good can we be at judging others? How can we possibly guess what the other person’s need is if we can’t trust our own perception of that need? We listen to the other person. By listening carefully and with clarification of what we are hearing, we can come much closer to an accurate, if less self-satisfying answer.

[reit: the model of the sales cycle is used herein because the accuracy of the communication cycle directly and measurably relates to the satisfaction level of both parties involved, whether material, financial or even emotional satisfaction with the process – in other words, it’s simpler to study and understand]

Continuing the discussion of the principles of selling, in order to “qualify the customer,” we intend to determine several things; () will indicate the sales-related concepts:

  • Identify the person’s needs (what do they want to achieve)
  • Determine if anything we have to offer would fulfill any of those needs (what do we sell that meets that want)
  • Establish ability for the person to adopt fulfillment of the need (are they willing to buy it)
  • Find out if the person is willing to pursue the change needed complete the transaction.(write up the sale)

Note that not one of these asks, “Can the person afford what we are selling?” “Does the person have actual skill or talent needed to use what they are buying?”  That’s the big difference between basic selling and the basis for this podcast – setting a good example for others through living. Selling is about addressing immediate needs, often because in a competitive market, you can never be sure how loyal a customer can be for each and every sale. We might feel better as a customer, if the salesperson simply said, “You know… I don’t recommend you buy this. You’ll never really be able to do with it what you want to accomplish.”  But that salesperson’s livelihood depends on the sales dollars, and not so much good (or bad) advice.

The odd thing is we often approach giving support to others in the same fashion. We take a guess at what they are trying to achieve, and immediately try to provide a solution that in our mind would solve everything. That would be akin to having a conversation with a friend such as,

“Hi, how are you doing?”

“I’m okay. Just a little depressed these days.”

“I know. Just follow these 12 steps, join this program, and start doing this training course, and you’ll be all better forever! Just follow me, and sign here.”

In our interactions with others, it always reinforces the likelihood of having a successful communication by listening first. If you feel motivated to start a conversation with a someone because you wanted to vent about how stressful life had become, or to listen to all of your recent triumphs and accomplishments, that conversation would probably be better received if you asked permission of the other person first, “I just had a horrible experience. Do you mind listening?” And be sure that response is an affirmative, “Yes, I’m ready to listen,” and not a qualified, “Yeah, sure.”
By starting with self-reflection, whether through meditation, counseling groups, journaling, or whatever works for you, the discovery of what makes you move, feel and grow (or conversely shrink, avoid and immobilize) leads to transformation of how you deal with others, and ultimately reinforcement of every relationship you share with others.

This reminds me of an interesting observation about actors and acting (which often comes up during the “Why do we want to become an actor?” portion of many introductory workshops on the subject.) Actors are often more comfortable being extremely detailed and emotionally-rich when playing anyone other than themselves. That’s not to say they don’t like themselves, or don’t like looking into mirrors. But they develop a certain skill at being able to portray a character with amplified attributes, and can emotionally invest in that character in a way which is not as simple to do with themselves.

Why does it feel safer to play a homicidal maniac (or hopelessly romantic) character than dealing with one’s own neuroses and troubles? Because actors have their own “safe word” – the director says, “Cut!” In life, we are the only ones who have the true capacity to tell ourselves, “Cut!” – meaning that’s enough, you did it, let’s move on.  Psychologically, when you know there’s an end to the pain, madness, sadness, endless joy, or any of these hyperbolic emotional states, it’s easier for you to “go there” and realize you can come back.  When you “go there” and don’t come back, we term that as psychosis, and identifying that by yourself is pretty difficult.

In buddhism, we talk about how we are the product of 10 prior generations of our ancestry. That’s how far back (or far forward) every action you or someone else takes, affects someone else, whether you know them or not (and most likely, not.) The reasoning behind the generations is because as a communal species, we reproduce generally with those whom have had a significant influence on our lives. If ten generations of lovingkindness and care-filled harmonious parentage produced you, the likelihood that you’re pretty worry-free and emotionally content is pretty high. For those of us with a less than perfect 10 generation lineage (which is about 99.999998% of people), there’s many reasons we feel the need for dependency, infidelity, lying, stealing or attraction to wealth, power, elitism and arrogance. We can point a finger at any of those 10 generations worth of individuals and declare, “Hah! That’s why I do that!”  Or, you can take action and do something about it.

For completeness, this year’s 2015 annual guideline is:

As we enhance Oyasono,
Let us further share the light of saisho—as revealed in shinnyo
In the spirit of upholding the Dharma.

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2014-December Shinnyo Podcast – Introductions and Listening

2014-December Shinnyo Podcast – Introductions and Listening

  • Why Do We Listen?
  • Flat-lining Conversations
  • Listening As-if Your Life Depended On It
  • Increasing the Value of Your Time Spent Listening

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My wife said I never listen. At least I think That's what she said.
Hearing versus Listening

In order to communicate effectively, we just need to listen. As much as we may like to hear ourselves talk, it is the first reflections by our listening partner, whether a single person or an audience of thousands, that determine whether what we are saying is getting through, or politely being heard, but not necessarily understood. Listeners also need to want to listen. The motive that drives active listening could be psychological, emotional, technical, educational, financial, or even spiritual and metaphysical in nature. But divining the purpose behind the listening is later on during the conversation.  For now, we need to start somewhere, and that place is the beginning of any communication – the introduction.

Sometimes it is as simple as saying, “Hello.” But often that is met in return by an automatically polite response of another, “Hello.” Or, “Hi.” Notice how that sort of puts the conversation right back to where it started? The communication became a statement without an action, like saying, “I’m here.” And, “I am too.” Gets nowhere pretty quickly.

The same situation happens with the opening, “Hi, how are you doing?” if the respondent replies, “Fine.” If you left the conversation there, it’s already dead. Taking that one step further, let’s say the respondent is engaged in the conversation and replies, “Fine. And how are you?” If you replied to that with, “Fine.” Voila’, another dead conversation.

How do we fix this situation? You could read any number of books on etiquette, communication arts, or even dating and memorize a bunch of static conversation starters, but since we like getting to the point, it’s about listening – Active Listening. In order to have active listening, we have to care about the communication being sent.  We have to have a vested interest in hearing and understanding what is being said. Strangely enough – that interest or motivation does not have to just be compassion (though it’s a nice place to start.) Sometimes we listen because of fear, such as cases where, if we make a mistake in listening, it costs us something whether financial, emotional, or even physical.So when appearing in court before a judge, or a doctor talking to us about a disease or problem that’s been diagnosed, we tend to listen much more carefully than if the motivation were more cosmetic or political in nature.

We learned (at Guitar Center) that when a person comes in the door, there’s a purpose for their visit, and our job was to figure out what that person’s motivation was – and if at all practicable, meet it by selling them something, or providing a service. So, we’d start with the usual, “Hi,” but quickly follow that with something that would lead to giving us more information about the person’s motivation. That follow up was not always verbal (some people are naturally less talkative than others) so we also learned to observe behavior (Where in the room is the person looking? Are they touching particular items with interest? Does the way they are dressed give us any clues as to why they are here?)  Asking yourself, “Why are they here?” helps frame your own intent in the conversation.

For any interaction, if you start valuing the time involved, for both yourself as well as the other person, you start realizing the precious value of time and especially in service industries, when there are many people to serve, wasting time on chatty smalltalk not only wastes the time of the other people  in the conversation, but leaves everyone else waiting. They might need even more answers, or create the most frustrating situation, when someone just wants to get their transaction over with, and the service person is tied up in a lengthy talk with someone who will take hours if given the opportunity.

Your best interests are served for both of you in a conversation to become aware of what the other person needs, assess the situation with efficiency and determine an actionable path of solution. How many times have you encountered a conversation which started off with an innocent, “How are you doing?” and the other person immediately launches into a non-stop description of their problems, situation, troubles, tribulations and didn’t take a breath to ask if you actually were ready to listen to that?  Think about which words you are choosing during introductions, as there is often an implied nature to these innocuous commonly chatty ways to start a conversation, but the key to changing the value in these conversations is to start with words much closer to your intent.

We were trained to become acutely aware when someone randomly came in and wanted to basically either tap all of our knowledge by asking every conceivable question, or was there to basically “vent.”  And if the time wasn’t appropriate to entertain such a conversation (whether we didn’t have the immediate patience to listen at the time, or there were too many other people waiting for our attention), we halted everything and set up an appointment in the future where we could reserve time to go through all the details needed (and pay the proper amount of attention to the person’s needs.)

As you begin opening your awareness to how other people communicate with you, you might find yourself being surrounded by more and more people seeking your advice or counsel, or simply looking for someone to listen.  Try not to sacrifice your own valuable time and quality of presence by feeling as though you need to make up for listening quality with lengthy listening quantity.  Develop your deep and thorough listening skills – listening with intent. At some point, your ability to listen may have more impact in another person’s life than your ability to talk.

2014-November Shinnyo Podcast – Sales and Selling

2014-November Shinnyo Podcast – Sales and Selling

  • How I Came to Know Something About Selling Stuff
  • Establishing Rapport
  • Qualifying the Prospect
  • Closing the Deal
  • Overcoming Objections
  • Everyone Can Be Satisfied
  • What Does Selling Have to Do with Spirituality?

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Image courtesy of ASCE.org

From this month’s “Shinnyo Teaching for November 2014”:

  • Everyone — each and every individual person — is equally precious.
  • This is because deep within us we all have “buddha nature,” the nature of becoming a buddha.
  • As a “child” of the Buddha, everyone has that potential, which is called buddha nature. It is what makes you so precious.
  • And if you are precious, then it means that others, who also share this quality, are also precious.
  • Recognizing the value in each of us—that mutual recognition—is one of the meanings of the hand gesture—the gassho mudra—that we form, in which we place our palms together reverently toward each other.
  • Buddhism, and in particular the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, teaches this principle [that we all have buddha nature, something that we should cherish in each other.]
  • So, just as you are precious, so are others. When we all acknowledge this, that’s when we will have true harmony, true friendship, and true respect.

One of my many forays into different career paths took me to the auspicious sales rooms of one of the most polished and misunderstood selling organizations on the planet – The Guitar Center (aka Music123, ZZounds, MusiciansFriend, and a whole cadre of other pseudonyms from acquisitions and mergers over the years.)  Few people understand how the professional salespeople that inhabit Guitar Center come to roost there, selling musical instruments and equipment of all sorts.

Well, it’s a “cool” job. The estimate is that approximately 30% of all professional sales people from well-trained fields such as food and beverage, car, truck and motorcycle sales, real estate and even luxury goods (jewelry, fashion, marine vehicles, etc.) have also at one time or another in their lives also wanted to be musicians or vocalists at some point – Rock Stars, so to speak.

Heavy-duty sales jobs often lead to burn-out after having to deal with haggling customer after customer, or failing to meet quota because of a lowered interest in getting out there and hitting the target yet one more incessant day. And at some point, they realize that the same stores that they browsed and wandered through in their youth, picking up and playing (affectionately known at GC as “wanking”) multi-thousand dollar instruments and momentarily living out the fantasy, also happen to require the very same skill sets that their other lines of business required, with pretty much the same potential income. Sell a few hundred thousand dollars worth of audio equipment, and you, too can have one of those Top-Dog Corvettes just like the other selling organizations like to dangle as “carrots.”  The difference is, you might be selling to other cool big-name musical artists (or more often their show producers sent on acquisition missions), all the while actually “living the dream” by being surrounded by the industry of a billion musical fantasies.

Image courtesy of stores4music.com

Whereas working at a Ferrari dealership probably doesn’t get you the opportunity to drive around in an California T every night, working at a GC actually does put someone into contact with the very same instruments that the dream artists use (albeit usually the salesperson doesn’t quite have the same chops or skills to sound like their object d’ musical worship)

Musicians tend to be very emotionally-driven customers, and unlike a painter visiting a local art supply, most musicians like to feel comfortable when they’re committing to new equipment, a sort of psychological connection with the instrument (or even software, in the case of DJ’s these days).  Developing that connection is the task of the musical sales professional (or MSP for short).

Every person who walked in the door of a store is a prospect, whether past, present or future. The primary goal of the MSP is to make a positive memorable impression on that person and cultivate the sale into its next logical stage (whether that is thinking about buying, figuring out how to buy something, buying something, or buying more afterwards). The goal of this impression is to establish trust and a return relationship with the customer.  You “break the ice” of this cold-start relationship by demonstrating interest or concern for the customer.

As the customer may be at any of the 4 aforelisted stages of buying, the MSP then needs to figure out where that person is in the buying cycle. Is it mere casual curiosity about the item? Or is the person down to the last two contenders and they’re still not sure which to pick? Do they even know what they need to achieve their goal? And what is that goal?

If the person is at that pivotal moment of committing to buying, they usually need to have evaluated the purchase as being exceedingly positive in comparison with the investment cost of the item. This evaluation is often emotionally-driven, so the person must feel “right” about buying or there is no point in trying to finish the transaction.

Image courtesy of fearless-selling.ca Blog

At this point, there is often all of the premature purchase regrets that settle into the transaction. “I can’t afford this.” “I won’t be able to use all of these features.” “I’m not good enough at playing to warrant this.” And even, “My parents/spouse will freak if I bought this.”  The MSP deals with each of these, hopefully with redirection and assurance so that none of these aversive thoughts continue to plague the customer.

Ultimately, the MSP becomes a partner to the customer, both supporting the sales process itself, as well as guiding the customer to an ultimately more positive experience with the new item of possession.  Having the item must feel better than the regret of walking away from the purchase, and that is the single-most important goal of the MSP to ensure that it happens, otherwise the dreaded eventual return for credit or refund will boomerang next.

Image courtesy of wikimedia.org

What did all of this have to do with your spirituality? As a person on this planet dealing with all sorts of people every single day, our own enlightenment depends a lot on how others see us as a demonstration of our own beliefs. Effectively, we are virtually selling our personality or presence to others, and if we are not actually doing the right things to assure that process is continuously productive and positive, we can suffer the very same failed sales, over and over again (the cycle of Karma continues.)

Next month we’ll take a deeper dive into each of these stages and see what we can do to assist our own greater chances for success at achieving our goals. But think about how you feel the next time you’re interacting with a salesperson – you can tell a lot about that person’s awareness of you just by how you feel.

For more information feel free to e-mail me at jlui at jlui dot net, or twitter @jhlui1 With Gassho _( )_, James

 

Hou-Ren-Sou: A Recipe for Japanese (Over) Communication

And it works: Hou-Ren-Sou: Communicate X 3.

Voyager of the Flattening World

The Japanese word “hou-ren-sou” means spinach. Spinach is a vegetable you find at the authentic Japanese restaurant, as in “ohitashi” or boiled and chilled spinach with soy sauce and in “goma-ae” or spinach with sweet sesame paste. This “hou-ren-sou” is, however, a special term in the business management context and nothing to do with those delicious dishes. The three syllables of the word, “hou,” “ren,” and “sou” are abbreviation of the three management keywords regarding the Japanese style communication at the workplace. Almost all the Japanese freshmen are repeatedly taught, during on- and off-the-job training, the importance of the “hou-ren-sou.” Let’s see its recipe in more detail.

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