Today, what I want to talk about is how to acknowledge the awkward. This is one of my favorite topics when it comes to sales and leadership in network marketing. Here at Emerge, our goal is to give you hope, confidence, and skills for your network marketing business and we do a ton of work around leadership development. And acknowledging the awkward is one of my favorite topics and techniques, and here’s kind of how it works.
All the time people will say, “Well here’s this awkward situation, how do I handle it?” And I’ll say, “Tell me about the awkward situation” And they’ll say something like, “Well, here’s what it is,” and then I will respond with “Well, what if you just told them that.” Admitting, opening up and acknowledging the awkwardness of a situation actually builds a lot more trust. So let me go ahead and explain exactly how this works.
So here’s some questions that have come up from different clients. I’d encourage you to ask many questions, and sometimes they feel like they might be coming out of the blue. “Tell me about your health goals,” or, “When you buy makeup, what’s important to you?” The other example, I had a client share, “I feel so uncomfortable entering the closing process with people that I know.” Another client shared, “I’m going to show products and the hostess didn’t even tell them that’s what we were doing. It’s gonna be so awkward, and I’m worried that they’ll be upset or I’ll be weird. What do I do?” And so to take the awkward out of any situation, just acknowledge it with a buffer.
So what is a buffer? The dictionary definition of a buffer is a person or a thing that prevents incompatible or antagonistic people or things from coming into contact with or harming each other. Now, it’s a little hard to explain this theoretically, so I’m gonna walk you through some examples of buffers from some of the examples that I just gave you and I’m sure this’ll help you to understand the concept and apply it with much success.
So, example Number One: “Tell me about your health goals.” This is a great question because it helps to connect the dots between what they want to achieve in life and your products, but sometimes it can feel a little out of the blue. So the easiest way to buffer this is to explain why you are asking. So something like this, “I don’t wanna bore you with details that you don’t care about, so tell me about your health goals.” Asking this way creates transparency. “I want to personalize this appointment specifically to the things that you care about, so tell me about your health goals,” and so on.
Example Number Two: closing with people that you have known for years. This is awkward, right? All of the sudden you get uncomfortable, you start acting like a weirdo. Guess what, it’s weird for them when you act like this too.
So for this situation, just call out the awkwardness and explain how you’re gonna go about this so you’ll be more comfortable. Okay, so just acknowledge it. “I’m gonna show you a few kits. Now, I tend to get a little uncomfortable with people I know, so if I start acting weird and unlike myself, will you cut me a break? Okay, thanks. I’m just gonna do this exactly the same way I would do this with someone I don’t know. Is that cool?” I’m sure they’re going to say, “Don’t worry about it, you’re good,” and then you can go through the buying process without acting like a weirdo. You can actually serve them and it’ll work out the way it needs to.
Example Number Three I mentioned earlier: The hostess didn’t tell them you were coming to the party. This one cracked me up. So one of my clients was copied on the invite, it said nothing about her coming, and she felt really nervous. And so what I recommended was just acknowledge it and say, “Hey, did you guys like how Nancy tricked you into, you know, a party on this product? I’ve got you, just kidding! I had nothing to do with it; she figured you were the ones she’d wanna invite anyway, so she invited me as well. I’m gonna jam through the most popular products, if you wanna buy something, great. If not, no worries, you guys can hang out.” And my client let me know that this worked really, really, well. Everyone laughed, they understood, three out of four people bought, not bad at all.
What about following up with someone who’s supposed to order? Now, this one gets me because I get super anxious when someone’s like, “Yeah, I’m gonna sign that coaching contract, or “Yeah I’m gonna get this thing.” And I want to follow up with them, but I don’t wanna be a stalker. So you could just tell someone like that, make fun of yourself a little bit, just say, “Hey, sometimes I get, like, a little bit crazy, so I don’t want to turn into that. So when can I expect that order to come through and that way I’m not worried about it and if anything goes awry. Then I know exactly when to follow up with you.” We’re just telling them the truth.
Another example could be you screwed up, and I know, this probably never happens. Maybe you forgot the phone call, you forgot the whatever, your customer follow up isn’t as good as you want it to be, so I think we just have to acknowledge it. So let’s say you haven’t been following up with your client/customer like you should have been. If you just call them and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” they’re gonna mistrust you. They’re gonna say, “What the heck? You haven’t called me in forever!” So what if you just said that? “Hey, I know I haven’t reached out to you forever, and I’m trying to do a better job with consistently working with people. Do you have a couple minutes to chat?” or something like that. And they’ll say, “Oh, no, no, no, it’s fine, don’t worry about it, I’m busy too.” And this works really, really well.
I think about one of my really good friends, Tiffany, that we never talk, but when we do it’s always perfect. I’ll just text her, I’ll be like, “I’m the worst friend. I miss you, let’s hang out.” And it’s just acknowledging the awkward. “I have not been awesome, but I’m here now, and I care about you,” and it works in all areas of life to just acknowledge that awkward part of it.
So those are some sales situations. Let me explain some leadership situations since a majority of what I do now is on the leadership side. So I have some written down for you. Remember this, one of the best ways to build trust is to admit the truth. If you don’t admit it, they’ll be resistant, and you’ll be uncomfortable. So how about this – here’s a leadership buffer. “I’m gonna ask you some questions I’ve never asked before. If it’s a little clunky, will you give me some grace?” Or, “I’m going to teach you a technique and you’re the first person I’m teaching it to, so if it’s a little clunky, is that cool?”
Here’s Number Two, “I don’t know if this is the best way to do it. Can I share with you what I think and then you can give me feedback?” If you’re getting nervous that the idea that you have isn’t the best, what if you just admitted that? “I think this is a good idea, I’m not sure it’s the best idea. Let’s go over it and then you can tell me what you think and give me some feedback.” Instead of pretending like this is the best idea ever and you’re sure it’s going to work.
Number Three leadership buffer. “I’m thinking this might be something that might make you feel uncomfortable.” So maybe you’re asking someone to ask for referrals or invite someone to a recruiting conversation or something that they haven’t done before: “I think that this might be something that you might be a little bit uncomfortable with since you haven’t done it before. If we practice, would that be helpful?”
If you were thinking of recruiting someone that you have known for a long time but never invited to learn about the business, a buffer you could say is, “Hey, I was thinking about you this morning (now it needs to be true, of course), and I realized I’m such a do-do head. Whatever you decide is cool with me, but I just feel really silly that I’ve never asked you before so do you mind if I ask?” They’ll say, “No, I don’t mind.” “Ok, well, would you like to learn how to earn money with blah blah blah company?” And you’ll get a response like, “Yeah, actually, I was just thinking about that,” or, “No, that’s not really for me, but I appreciate you asking,” or you’ll get, “Maybe.” And that honesty is really, really helpful to create authenticity.
Another really big advantage of acknowledging the awkward is it gives our team members the bravery to be awkward as well. When we show up as leaders thinking we have everything all together, which we know is not true and we pretend that we have everything together, then it sends a message to our team that they need to have everything together before they move. Now I’m not saying to always talk about what a disaster everything is; that’s not helpful, but to just acknowledge the awkwardness of the situation is really, really, really helpful.
And so I really wanna urge you that whenever you’re coming across this spot of “Gosh, what do I say?? How do I acknowledge the situation? How do I go into it?” Just think, “Okay, what’s the situation?” And could you just say that to the person before you communicated what you want. And I think it’s gonna work really, really well for you.
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