I saw a small boy, maybe five or six, squatting on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store, staring intently at something. An old man with stringy gray hair limped up and squatted down beside him. I could hear only the old man’s side of the conversation.
“Cool bug… What do you think it is?… How about them horns?… Look how he walks… Huh, well….”
The boy was completely engrossed in the conversation. Both were completely engrossed in the bug.
Finally the old man stood up and said, “See you later,” and headed off.
Self-consciousness happens when we’re facing each other, when we’re trying to get something, fearful of failure or judgment. When we have something to look at together, something to play with, intimate connections happen organically. A bug magically turns strangers into friends.
People tell me that their best first dates, the ones where they really made a good connection and got to know someone new, were ones where something startling suddenly absorbed all the attention — a bug in the salad, a stickup, car trouble, torrential rain — and “gave us something to do together.”
When you meet with a prospective customer, you can try to dazzle them with your expertise. You’ll probably feel like you’re performing for a critical judge.
Or you can invite them to share their puzzle — “What are you trying to do? What seems to be happening? What have you tried? How do you want it to work? What difference would that make for your business?” — and give them one insight that might help them think differently about it.
Find a bug. They’ll forget it’s a sales call.