I'm going to assume you are thinking "Elizabeth, I know this!" But there I go - thinking that I know what you are thinking.
Seriously, if you stop and think about it - how many times a day do you assume you know what someone else is thinking and then make a decision based on what you think they are thinking!
Kind of silly, isn't it?
This happens to me a lot while I'm giving a presentation. I'll see someone in the audience and they look bored, or tired, or distracted, etc. I assume that they are not interested in what I'm saying. I assume they know everything that I'm talking about and they can't wait to leave. I think that I know what they are thinking.
What I tend to do when this happens is to ignore that person while I'm speaking and I really focus on the attendees that are engaged with me and responding to what I'm saying. Because I think that I know what the 'bored' people are thinking I don't pay any attention to them. This is a mistake.
Last week I was speaking to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers)
group and one of the young moms near the front did not make any eye contact with me, she seemed distracted and bored. So, immediately I figured she wasn't interested in my talk and didn't want to be there. I started ignoring her.
After the talk she came up and was interested in purchasing my book (which surprised me) and told me how her mother had purchased her other organizing books, that they were just too overwhelming, and could my book help her? I shared with her more about my book and she purchased the book.
About 10 minutes later when I was ready to pick up my materials she was back at my table - just hanging around. This surprised me again! She said to me "May I ask you a question?" and I said "Sure." She then asked me a question that was the last question I expected from this young woman. She said "My husband passed away a few months ago and I don't know what to do about his stuff in the bedroom." I stared at her speechless. This young mom was 28 years old.
This precious woman was not bored at all in my presentation but, of course, she was distracted and had other things on her mind. As we talked it turned out that she loves to organize and enjoyed my presentation a lot.
We don't know what someone else is thinking.
- How many times have you not talked about your business with someone because you assumed they would not want to hire you?
- How many times have you quoted a lower speaking fee because you assumed the association didn't have money to pay a speaker?
- How many times have you not followed-up with a past client because you assumed that they wouldn't want to work with you again?
- How many times.....?
I am as guilty as anyone.
Let's stop assuming and start asking questions. Let's find out for sure before we make decisions that cost us business and stop us from helping others with our expertise.