mindfulTomorrow I am slated to lead a workshop on mindful communication in sales.

Communication serves lots of purposes, but, to me, motivating others to act is at the core.

We all influence others every day.   You don’t need to be a sales person to desire or benefit from mindful communication….  Just ask my 17 year old….  I could use some serious practice in how to effectively communicate with her, she’s been one of my greatest teachers… try, fail, try, try again, success!  Try, fail, try again, success!

The truth is, we’re all sales people, every single one of us.

We must sell people; influence them to get what we want and need.  ( just trying getting something from someone else when you’re rude and mean, it’s not super effective )

Preparing for this workshop, it’s got me realizing what was supposed to be easy and straightforward isn’t so much…

The setting is mostly sales people and the discussion they are expecting is things like objection handling, influencing and motivating people, how to respond to specific issues— some very straight forward scripts and dialogue conversations.  We will even do some effective roll play and help craft awesome language around core issues that come up for everybody.

As many good sales people are, I’m highly capable of “in the moment” language.  I can respond to a situation quickly, read a room and a dynamic in an instant and I have an innate ability to say just the right thing to get to the heart of a matter.

I assimilate a huge number of key facts… facial expressions, tone of voice, rhythm of response, body language…  and because I have years and years of experience, mostly I understand a vibe in a second and know exactly how to be most effective.

Anyone can get this good.

Experience is part of it, as with all things, I know the actual work teaches us best how to do it.

My challenge is crossing the bridge from doing to teaching….

You can’t write it out on a blackboard, you can’t say, “when this happens, say this” because the real world doesn’t work like that…  Have you ever been on the receiving end of a bad telemarketing call and if you throw a wrench in their perscripted conversation even a tiny bit the whole thing is a huge wreck?

I’ve come to the conclusion that, for me, mindful communication requires a few basic skills to master before anything else will be effective:

1)   Be in the present moment.

Leave your world outside, do whatever it takes.  Meditate, pray, scream, sing, walk in nature… whatever you need to do to focus yourself and leave your stuff outside, do it.  I know this sounds like a bumper sticker.. but honestly, this is the most powerful thing to learn.  If you know how to be here now, you will hear so much more than just what someone says.. you will be ready and able to respond with fresh dynamic thinking because you won’t be caught up in your own swirl.  And, I think this skill will help everything, not just communication.

2)   drop your agenda.

I watch people all the time so totally committed to the point they want to make, they disregard how the person they are talking with is receiving it.  If you keep such a strong focus on the end goal, you loose the fruitage that might happen along the way.  When you let go of your own goals and really listen to the other persons needs and desires, you can often walk them to your destination on some alternative route that accomplishes their needs, and yours.  Being attached to the path is never effective, lots of roads lead to Rome.

3)   listen for what people are trying to say rather than what they are saying

So often we take other people literally.   The trouble is, many people don’t articulate what they need to say very well.  In sales and in general, if you really master #1, being in the present moment, you will likely have the ability to make accurate assumptions about what people really mean.  It’s ok to ask them, “hey, are you saying…?” and ask again and again if you need to.  It’s also ok to trust your gut, to answer what you think they are trying to say, even if they never get clear.  You’ll know if you’re right or not based on how they respond.

4)   assume much more is going on that is present.

The other day I had an experience that taught me something profound.  My friend was dying and I was two hours away.  Every car in America got in front of me in that moment and slowed down just a little.  It was infuriating and I had to practice mindfulness at its most core level just to stay alive.  Driving around the next day, I was so conscious that everyone around me might be going to see their friend too…  that we never know what’s really going on with people, that absolutely 100% of the time, we do not have all the facts.  If you think you know all that’s influencing someone your communicating with, you’re a fool.  If you always assume more is going on, and you offer up sincere compassion, you’ll find yourself taking allot less personally and getting much farther because I think everyone can feel compassion and is grateful for it at the most basic level.  (( and taking stuff personally is the kiss of death, see #7! ))

5)   Control the moment, not the outcome, and be willing to change

This is sorta a repeat of #2, but it’s so important.  It’s much easier to succeed in sales and in life when you create a wider definition of success.  I tend to think that behavior in various moments is what adds up and creates a result.  Many people spend too much time focusing on the result and not the behavior that yields it.  Work more on each moment.  Forget about the outcome, it will simply be the result of mastering the present moment.  This doesn’t mean not having a goal or end in sight, it’s just means that every step matters and if you trip along the way, its harder to get there.  Sometimes you have to walk, jump, run, climb and crawl to get to a finish line.  Be mindful of each step.

 6)   shut up. 

Seriously. Honestly, people love to talk.  Let them.   You will learn an extraordinary amount of information and find a way to lead them where you want to go by listening… people will follow who they like and people like people who deeply listen to them.  And when you get a yes, stop talking.

7)   don’t take stuff personally.

I don’t know about you, but this is the biggest struggle for me.  And when I mastered this, I excelled.  Rejection is hard, but when you consider no as a temporarily obstacle, you’ll find it usually is.   For me, if I know something is right in my gut, when I get a no, I consider how I approached the situation and how I can re-approach it to get a yes.  If I take what someone says personally, I’m being self-centered and that leads me down a familiar rabbit hole with no exit.  People say crazy stuff all the time, unmindfully express emotions that are not based in facts.  If you anticipate this and welcome it, then you won’t be hurt by it.  I actually consider some emotion a part of the process, part of the by in.

The truth is, all this is sales & communication 101 in my book.

I think we work so hard on language that we forget WHO to show up as and instead focus on things that don’t matter as much.  People feel you much more than we all realize and I think how they feel is the strongest motivator in all things.

I wrote the following for a sales training I did a while back, but it’s just as relevant here:

1)   the quietest person in the room often has the most power.

2)   Those who speak first almost always loose.

3)   Tone of voice, how you say something is twice as important as what you say

4)   Authentic happiness is so sexy, it’s almost irresistible.

5)   People want to do business with people they like, and people mostly like people who pay attention and listen to them

6)   We are wildly self-centered, so making “it” about them is a sure winner.

7)   Stop learning scripts, start learning how to listen.  Practice it constantly.   If you can listen, you’ve already won.

8)   Being real is mission critical.  The odor of fake is so repulsive you have no shot at getting close to anything.

9)   Eye contact is crucial.  I think eye’s are the window to your soul.   I’ve watched events completely unfold, both positively and negatively, as a result of eye contact.

10)  You never, ever, know what’s really going on with people.  NEVER forget this.  Those who don’t run story lines and don’t judge where people are coming from ALWAYS do better.

Perhaps the dictionary sums this all up best:




adjective: mindful

conscious or aware of something.

2.synonyms: 3.aware, conscious, sensible, alive, alert, acquainted, heedful, wary, chary; More