How did you feel the first time you sat down with a good friend to share your business and product?
How do you suppose they felt?
If you were like me there were a few butterflies. Maybe a lot!
And if you were nervous, I am guessing your friend felt it and wondered what in the world was happening.
She might have been thinking, “Oh no! Don’t tell me you’re doing one of those things!”
There is nothing like a case of nerves to derail all your plans. And you can forget the script some well-meaning up line gave you.
Trying to remember your script does not dispel nerves!
Even if you have perfectly memorized your script you nervously look for the right place to insert your opening line.
And then what do you do when your friend doesn’t stick to the script?
Would you like a better way to begin?
Try being fully present in the moment.
Enjoy the presence of your friend. Catch up on what is happening in her life.
And while you are doing that use a little reflective listening and mirroring.
Reflective listening allows your friend to hear what he has said. It can be done using two techniques:
Restating: You repeat what your friend has said using their own words. Your tone of voice must be neutral and must not rise at the end of the statement or it will sound like you are questioning what she said.
Rephrasing: You take the most important part of what your friend says and repeat it using his own words.
Reflective listening will help you connect with your friend. So will another technique called mirroring.
Mirroring: You subtly mirror some of the actions of your friend. When she picks up her cup of coffee, you pick up yours. The Science of People has this article that will make you an expert at mirroring.
You should probably practice either reflective listening or mirroring. You might find trying both overwhelming. Plus, you want to see the effect of each one by itself.
Reflective listening is powerful. But you may doubt that something so simple could be powerful.
The best way to learn the power of reflective listening is to role play.
I remember role playing when I was acting the part of a reluctant friend who did not want to hear about network marketing. It went like this:
Me: I heard you have joined Jean in her business and I don’t want to talk about it.
My friend using reflective listening: You don’t want to talk about it. [This was delivered in a neutral tone. The voice didn’t rise at the end making it sound like a question. It truly reflected to me what I had said.]
Me [I was amazed to feel my defenses weaken with that one reflective listening statement. So my response was softer than I had planned.]: Not really. It’s just that we are a little short and we’re trying to save up so I can quit my job.
My friend resisted the urge to tell me that she could help with that; instead she reflected what I said: You want to quit your job.
Me: I am desperate to get out of that job. And we want to start a family.
My friend, has heard two different thoughts and gets to decide which is most important to me right now: You want to start a family.
Me: We have for a couple of years. But the job so drains me that I can’t imagine taking care of a baby.
My friend: You can’t imagine taking care of a baby.
Me: Not while working. I want to be a good mother. My mother went back to work and she wasn’t there for me. I would love to join you and Jean. But the timing is just terrible.
Remember, I was role playing and I had determined to be a hard sell. But even in role play the reflective listening so disarmed me that I found myself more agreeable to the idea of joining my friend in her business. [ This conversation only uses one of the Five Listening Skills. After you have learned the other four Listening Skills you won’t use Reflective Listening so much. Once is often all you need before moving forward with the other skills.]
At this point, my friend has many different options. She could start sharing how the business could work for me but she is smart enough to realize that I am still not ready. The timing may not be right. She values my friendship enough to continue the conversation with the other listening skills and see where I go with it. She has relinquished control of the conversation and I will feel free to be open with her.
From your experience, what would I do if my friend says something like, there are lots of couples building a business just so they can quit their job and be full-time parents at this point?
She could say that and maybe I might say yes. But most likely the conversation would end awkwardly.
Network marketing is a business of timing. You can ignore that and still experience success. But how many friends and family will you alienate.
Two important things to keep in mind:
- Use your friend’s own words.
- Don’t let it sound like a question by letting your voice go up at the end of your statement.
By using your friend’s own words you are letting her hear what she said. Unbelievably, we are so bad at listening we don’t even listen to ourselves sometimes. Or we overstate what we are thinking.
Here are some examples:
Your friend: I won’t ever do network marketing. It’s a total scam.
You: You won’t ever do network marketing. [It would be easy to raise your voice at the end. That would change your reflective listening into a challenge that would put your friend on the defensive. Instead, your friend has heard how final her statement sounds.]
Your friend: Oh, I don’t mean never. I just can’t imagine doing one more thing right now.
Your brother: Are you crazy? Only idiots do network marketing.
You: [Family can say hurtful things. But do they really mean it? No! This is your brother who would give you the shirt off his back. Now you are going to repeat what he said neutrally. Don’t let the tone of your voice go up at the end even a little.] Only idiots do network marketing. [If you let your voice go up, you and your brother may not talk together at the next family reunion. If you keep a neutral tone of voice, you keep that precious relationship with your brother healthy.]
Your brother: Oh, you know what I mean. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Why are you doing this? [Wouldn’t you love to be able to tell him.]
One of the benefits of reflective listening is to put your sister or friend at ease. If they know that you just joined one of those things, they know what is coming. They may not want to join you but they don’t want to say no either.
By reflectively listening, you begin to release your agenda. They will sense that and realize that they can say no. It may make it easier for them to eventually say yes.
The Benefits of Reflective Listening:
- It helps you release your agenda by giving their statements importance.
- It puts them at ease once they realize you are not going to pressure them.
- It demonstrates that you care more about the friendship than a sale.
- It helps you listen to what is being said to you.
- It helps your family member hear what they are saying.
- It eases your nerves by focusing on what they are saying instead of trying to get an opening for “your script.”
- It is the beginning of a productive conversation by preparing you and your friend for the other listening skills.
Here is why you may find Reflective Listening hard:
- Reflective listening seems silly until you have experienced its power.
- Many people struggle with keeping their voice neutral.
- You may be nervous about your goal of sharing your business or product.
- You are worried about your friend’s reaction.
- You don’t feel in control of the conversation.
- You haven’t discovered the power of not being in control.
Practice makes good; more practice makes better.
Find a partner, someone on your team maybe, and practice with these comments. Remember to keep your voice neutral and don’t let your voice rise at the end. Think about what your natural response might be and why it would be better to restate.
- I hate my job.
- I want a real vacation.
- I don’t want to hear about your weight loss products.
- I want to lose 15 pounds by my daughter’s wedding.
- We aren’t going to ever be able to retire at this rate.
- My husband is never at home when the kids are awake.
Now you need to pick what you think is most important and rephrase it. You are still using the same words. Rephrasing is a better way to respond to comments you would like to refute. If you reflectively listen you will begin a dialogue that will be much more conducive for you to eventually answer their concerns.
- I hate having to work. I just want to stay home and take care of my family. [If you invest time listening, you will learn more about what could be a huge “Why”.]
- My brother-in-law did that and didn’t make a dime. [If you respond with a fact that refutes this statement, the discussion may end as an argument.]
- I get my essential oils from Vitamin Cottage and they cost less there. [If you tell them that they get what they pay for, the conversation is over. If you rephrase this, the conversation can go forward. Perhaps, you will learn that they aren’t so sure of the value of their essential oil. You will be able to continue with the other listening skills if you reflectively listen first. Who knows, this may be your next distributor.]
- I don’t have the time. I have been working overtime, my kids are starting soccer and ballet and my husband is always out of town on business.
- I did the last venture with you and we lost money, remember? I can’t afford to lose any more money.
- I don’t know as many people as you do. And I don’t want to make my friends mad at me.
The key to using rephrasing well is to pick a part of the larger statement for two reasons.
First, it would be weird to repeat a long complex statement.
Second, you can pick which one you want to learn more about.
In comment number five you could respond reflectively with, We lost money. Or you can’t afford to lose money.
I would pick the second because I am curious about the finances of your friend. Is there something she is struggling with that she hasn’t shared with you?
Practice reflective listening when you interact with people for the next few days and observe what happens.
When angry words are spoken to us, our first instinct is to react with anger. We all know how effective that is at diffusing an incident.
Imagine instead that we all use reflective listening. It might look like this:
Angry person: What are you doing? I was there first.
You: You were there first. [If you raise your voice at the end, it will sound like you are challenging the Angry Person and you better get ready to duck.]
Angry person: I had my eye on the end of the line and you came out of nowhere, so maybe we got here at same time.
You [Because you have kept your cool you will be gracious.]: That’s okay. Go ahead first.
Then as you stand in line you use the next of the Five Listening Skills: Interpretive Listening. You will not believe how that will turn this situation around.
Reflective Listening is hard. Practice it every chance you get and you will grow as a listener.
Find a friend to practice with. You can even try practicing on the phone.
I am considering hosting zoom sessions for practice. If that interests you, email me.
As always, I value your input.
God bless you,