Now These are Funny!

OK, it’s Saturday and I thought we’d have a little fun.  Here are two pictures emailed to me by a friend.  I’ll let you insert your own captions.

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Now That’s Funny!

As I’ve said many times, this isn’t a political blog.  However, I think all small business owners have an interest in politics.  Here’s a video from Ray Stevens that’s funny no matter what side you’re on.  Enjoy.

Check out the Ray Stevens web site for more funny stuff and to buy the audio version of  We the People.

The Art of Listening

hearing aidI was speaking to a friend the other day.  He was very excited by his new hearing aid.  He said he can carry on a conversation now, without having to ask the other person to repeat anything.  He can hear birds singing and even crickets chirping.  He said “I can actually hear a pin drop.”  It was expensive, but well worth it.  He said he thought it was the greatest hearing aid in the whole world.

So I asked him, “What kind is it?”

He looked at his watch and said “12:30”

I know it’s a corny story, but it makes a good point.  Even with perfect hearing, we often don’t hear what the other person is saying.  We may think we do, but somewhere between the speaker’s lips and our brain, the message gets short-circuited.  “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

As business people we have to know what our customers want.  Barring a psychic gift, the only way to do that is to listen to what they’re saying.  But sometimes you have to read between the lines.  It’s been said that people have two reasons for doing something.  One is the real reason.  The other is the one that sounds good.  Sometimes, but not always, they’re the same.

For example, a customer may tell you that you don’t have the item that they’re looking for.  They may cite some feature or other that your offering lacks.  That sounds good.  But maybe their real reason for not buying is that they can’t afford something with the quality that you offer.  They’re over their budget, but they don’t want to admit that.  They save face by putting up a smoke screen.

You may have exactly what they want, but if you don’t ask questions to get through the smoke, you’ll never make the sale.  You can’t overcome an objection that doesn’t really exist.

The same is true with your employees.  Let’s say your best person comes into your office and give you notice.  “Why?” you ask.  And he gives you a reason.  Maybe he says he needs more money.  You offer him a raise but he still says “no”.

Maybe the real reason is that his wife wants him to take a bigger part in raising the kids.  Maybe she’s missing too much work.  But rather than admit that his wife is making him quit, he uses money as a smokescreen.  Again, a few probing questions might get you to the real reason.  By offering an additional day off, or more flexible hours, you might just retain a good employee and not have to give him a raise.

Here’s the thing.  Information is vital in running any business, especially a small one.  The key to good information is good listening.  And the key to good listening is asking the right questions and paying attention to the answers.

Thoughts for the Day

One thing I really admire is the gift of brevity, something I obviously don’t have.  The ability to make a pithy statement in a very few words is truly admirable.  While bicycling and listening to podcasts today, I came across two wonderful examples:

Never chase the money.  Chase excellence and the money will chase you.

Pat Fraley

Blogging is a game for idiots.

Anna Farmery

Mallard Fillmore on Small Business

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the  Mallard Fillmore’s comic strip from yesterday.  As my kids like to say, “It’s funny because it’s true.”

Motivation

Here's something kind of fun for a cold, icy Monday.  Matthews Belinkie has put together forty motivational quotes in a video that runs just over two minutes.  Something here is sure to ring your bell.  Even the Grinch is included.  Enjoy.

The Top 10 Reasons Why Working Longer Hours is a Good Thing

Anita Bruzzese is a published author, blogger, and all-around great lady who writes the 45 Things blog.  (Check this out!)  Last week she pointed out that with the number of people being laid off, there's a lot more work for the rest of us.  As the holidays approach, if you've cut back on hiring, chances are you're picking up a lot of the slack yourself.  Here's Anita's list of the top 10 good things about working all those extra hours.  Some may not apply directly to your situation, but most of them are probably right on.

1. Your mom feels so bad for you she's started doing your laundry.

2. Your neighbors are dropping off meals at your house, thinking you died. (The tuna casserole was excellent.)

3. The dog has quit shredding the drapes. It's no fun when you're not around to yell about it.

4. The overnight security guard at work has been letting you in on some really good deals. It's amazing the stuff that falls off the back of a truck!

5. You won $5 from the cleaning lady who said no way would a sleeping bag fit under the desk. Way!

6. No standing in line for coffee at Starbucks. You're first in line when the doors open.

7. Living in the same suit for five days straight has really cut down on your dry cleaning bill.

8.
For Halloween, you didn't have to buy a costume. You went as one of the
"undead" and won first prize in the scariest costume category.

9. Your stalker finally gave up and went away, saying your schedule was just too exhausting.

10. You don't have far to go for your weekly groceries — the vending machine is just down the hall!