The importance of a really good consultation process in any industry
I found myself in some kind of planetary scramble. You wouldn't think that the planets included bad hair vibe for an extended period of time, you'd think it was irrelevant to my BIGGER PICTURE. It does seem to be trying to tell me something because it's now one year, 4 hairdressers later that I find myself curious. I noticed that some ideas could follow from this in regards to the consultation process - something that we consider to be of high importance in working with clients from an Ayurvedic practitioner perspective and could be of great value in the business world, especially when it comes to really SEEING the person in front of you.
Do you have customer service experience? Correct me if I'm wrong, but this might just mean - have you learnt the art of dealing with various types of people and do you have a way of resolving conflict. What I don't think it yet means, commonly, in the business forums is - what method do you use for really seeing the essence of the person sitting in front of you? There are sneaky methods out there that will vy for your business by triggering your fear, greed, lust, shame, FOMO - all the good stuff. It's an easy sell. The environment, such as the nightly news, is there to support this agenda. Fortunately there are also businesses out there that strive to meet your needs and take the time to listen to who you are - in fact I might consider it is the new norm in the business culture and I wanted to break it down from the perspective I'm familiar with.
DOES YOUR THEORY INCLUDE THE OTHER?
I've noticed a similarity between the work I did as an Accounting contractor for many businesses and working as a practitioner, verified by my teacher- both are in the business of providing the client with information for them to see themselves, both are in the act of translating the desires of the owners into practical forms that can reflect the desire back to them, whether it's in numbers or body signals. As a customer service provider you act as the middle man practised in seeing how the desired result works with the unique personality of the host, the latter being the real crux of the translation.
Let me put it in a situation you might be familiar with to explain this further. You're with a buddy and you're discussing a personal situation. Let's just say something like...you're planning on an adventure, thinking about places you want to go, how you will finance it, take the time off...and your buddy, in reply, says that the reason she can't go on an adventure is because she can't take the time off and when she does she has other responsibilities and she has to pay off a debt and not everyone can just take off like that and anyways there are places in Australia she hasn't seen yet, why would she go overseas?
She took your running ball and took a slam dunk. You didn't know it was a game and forgot to defend yourself.
Our position can sometimes cause another person to look at themselves rather than listening to you. It might cause a doctor to be angry with a patient for not choosing to vaccinate, and especially when the client comes in with baby for a totally different reason. It might come through as a hairdresser totally in love with the current fashion and disregarding your desire to not follow a fashion. It might be wanting to sell a client your top tier product, even if you truly believe they can benefit, without asking whether they have not only the infrastructure but also the mindset to move so quickly. It's a yoga teacher not looking around the room to see 80% of the students taking rest because the long winded balance poses are too frickin taxing, and the teachers inability to veer from his rote learned sequence. It's an accountant advising their staff to take on new procedures that they collectively know will disrupt their internal flow without asking whether there are factos to consider in the transition. It's the new drug put to market that has seriously bad side effects that just didn't come up in the double blind peer reviewed study and now has too much money invested to pull the plug.
It's the consultant/expert so in love with their new theory that they forget they are in relationship with the people that will be in practise with it.
WHAT'S YOUR FRAMEWORK TO LISTEN FROM?
Learning empathy is a good thing. There are many ways to gain that skill. Here are some ideas from my experience-
You can't know another without knowing yourself. If there was even one of the examples I gave or any you can think of where someone did not hear what you wanted, this alone can be impetus to realise that although you may sincerely and with good intention think that your service or product serves another, the feedback from the recipient might give you a broader perspective of the various ways you can offer the same thing. I adore the new wave of small business etiquette out there which is to define your niche in a very clear, very detailed perspective and in discovering your ideal customer, you realise it's pretty close to yourself. The closer you advertise to your truth the closer the mix of your ideas to the potential client seem relevant. This is a pretty easy way to match perspective that involves little listening since the desires appear similar. Very clever way to go through the window if you don't have the ability to open the front door.
REFER TO YOUR CHOSEN FRAMEWORK FOR A GUIDE
Ayurveda is a framework that helps you define your body type so you make decisions closer to your true nature. It is based on the premise that your body doesn't lie and can give you insight to how far you've veered off your path. When the body and mind are in sync, you get in the habit of seeing things in tune. A great side benefit is that when you go through this journey, you get better at seeing the good in others and there is less need to compare yourself for validation. You become a better listener. In practise it works as simply as this. I notice I get really hot in the Summer. The red wine I was drinking was part of it as I now know it has a fermented quality to it, which is effectively heat transformation, ie leading to more heat. I also realised that too much work and no play caused more intensity and the word intense can be connected to feeling hot, especially in my mind causing frustration. I have found ways around it that I employ when Summer comes around. In this journey I've noticed others that don't react to the same things. They must not have has much heat as myself. I observed one employee come alive in the Summer and get more work done than ever, so I gave him more development work to do and leave the more routine stuff for another time. Me? I had to reduce my load and I include more playtime and enlist the help of others to keep an even mind. Something like that.
LEAVE SPACE FOR NOTHINGNESS
Consultations can feel too focused sometimes. If you are paying attention and have a framework to observe from (see number 2) then the object of the session can be to relax the client. When the space is conducive to true relaxation (as opposed to deceiving via alcohol or whatever else) where the pressure is taken off and it's not a "sell" then the client feels more comfortable to express their desires. Leaving open space takes you away from forcing your ideas down their throat and gives you the space to observe opportunities. You never know, they might give you a great idea and get their needs met at the same time.
WALK YOUR TALK
Ask questions you feel ready to answer. That wretched "where do you see yourself in 5 years" in an interview is a bunch of crap. Predicting the future and it's so vague to the point of the interview! The interview process does not seem to have evolved with the new business climate. We all want a good fit, we sure do desire loyalty but not sure whether we are prepared to give it, we want the employee to grow with us but may not offer support in how to adjust, and sometimes the job descriptions are SO VAGUE that there is a lack of information to procure the best fit (management should be reviewed first). As an interviewer do you know the mission and value system of the business you are representing and do you live by them? So many people dislike their job. I'm sure there is something in the consultation process that might be part of this. So many companies don't know what they are about. We have been told over and again that a certain intelligent human needs more than just money to motivate. If you want a set of bright people that are interested in making themselves better in this world, and in turn, creating a better world within your company, then build the structure to house them. Be clear on your offer and interview from this place. If you know what sincerity feels like in yourself you will know how to look for it in another.
CONSTANT CHECK IN
Creating relationships means a constant check in. We have a really great idea in Ayurveda, in Sanskrit, which is called Upashaya, something like trial and error. The idea works like this - you take the first step in healing via a recommendation, then you watch how it uniquely manifests in that client, and then you readjust. Repeat. In science we like to test one thing assuming other variables remain constant. In Ayurveda we assume things are dynamic all the time in this mishmash world and there are certain tools that can help you get closer to your truth, but we need to know what that is. And it takes a lifetime of practise. The stronger the belief system of the business you are involved in, the easier it is for the client/employee to work towards something, with room to move, as they take the time to re-adjust. But at least it's clear and they can move on if it's not in alignment with their own belief system. You might be in the process of getting closer to your business mission statement and adjusting accordingly. That's great. You may encounter employees or clients that drop off as you do so. That's great too because it leaves room for the new energy to fill the spaces. Personally I would really love to instantly know what I'm doing, and have that elevator speech ready for this show I'm putting on. However, as Mr Godin teaches us, just ship it and watch how it happens in action.
Wish me luck. I reckon number 5 is going to be the one! I reckon all this listening to myself might just eventuate in the same.
In the end, it's only hair. It grows irrespective of me.