I just lunch with my friend Govert van Ginkel. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years but we both share a passion for Non Violent Communication and how we can engage in healing and supporting others best. He and his partner TR we in town and we went for lunch at one of my favourite cafe’s in town, Noorish.
Govert was updating me on the past two years and the kind of work he’s been doing and the difficulty of pitching ‘Non Violent Communication’ type workshops to various groups.
“I was brought in by a Muslim school a while ago and they wanted me to do some team building amongst the staff to deal with some of the ways they related to each other. The challenge is that the staff all thought they communicated really well with each other. So I knew they wouldn’t really be open to that. So, we came up with a different topic!”
“What was that?”
“How to deal with difficult parents!”
“That’s amazing. From a marketing angle that’s so amazing. What happened?”
“Well, we played a bunch of games with them and through those games that were about how to deal with difficult parents they actually began to realize the ways they communicated with each other that weren’t so great. They began to see the ways they weren’t such a great team that no one was talking about.”
It reminded me of my conversation with Sexologist Jessica O’Reilly about how she would lead workshops called ‘How to Blow His/Her Mind’ that would sell out vs. tantra workshops that would try to market directly to the deeper need.
It’s really hard to sell things to people that they don’t want – even when you think they ‘need’ it.
It’s hard to give people advice that they’re not wanting.
You might see their limiting patterns, dysfunction and what they need so incredibly clearly . . . but if they don’t agree with your diagnosis and assessment they’re unlikely to take your advice or follow your guidance.
So much of helping people is about find the right way in – the doorway. It’s about figuring out how to reach people without pushing them. How to honour people and invite them to consider more.
And, in my experience, the best way to do this is to meet them where they’re at. The best way to reach people is with empathy for what they’re actually struggling with vs. frustration and impatience that they’re not ready to ‘get down to the real work’ (as you see it).
Govert could have tried to lecture the staff about their resistance to this important work he was offering and rolled his eyes at them thinking, ‘how can not see how incredibly dysfunctional they are!’ But how far do you suspect that would have gotten him.
Often our thoughts that our clients should be any different that they are is exactly what kills our marketing. Because then our marketing takes on the tone of shaming. Of making them ‘wrong’ for being who they are.
But Govert looked carefully at the situation and asked himself, ‘is there anywhere that these people are struggling (and know that they’re struggling) that I could offer help? Is there any pain they’re experiencing that I could help relieve that might open the door to deeper work if it goes well?’
And he found it: these poor bedraggled teachers are criticized constantly by parents. And he empathized with that. Imagine, you do your best all day only to be yelled at by a parent for not doing it perfectly enough? Ouch.
And so of course they were open to help with that. And once they’d met Govert and he helped them see other areas they were struggling they were open then to more guidance. They were humbled with what they saw about themselves. But they weren’t shamed. People are open to feeling humbled, but no one wants to feel humiliated. People want to do better, they don’t want to feel like they’re not doing enough.
Empathize. Meet them with kindness where they are. You might be surprised where it will take you and where they might ask you to go with them.
Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/