Perspectives, Points of View and Hidden Values are the links to understanding how people in general and especially seniors and their families react to information, respond to requests and ultimately make choices and decisions.
Senior living marketers and sales people who make the effort to uncover, clarify and prioritize the customers Values will experience more success in terms of sales results, overall satisfaction and referrals.
What are points of view, values, and perspectives?
When communicating with or trying to influence a person it is important to understand the relationship between Points of View – (an expressed opinion often framed in a statement like, “I think that…”), and a Value – (an underpinning belief that explains why the person has formed the Point of View or opinion). Values in turn are often shaped by a Perspective – (in most cases the person’s life experiences which are uniquely and widely different from person to person).
It’s Tricky but there is an Opportunity!
The Tricky Part – Let’s face it, there is often risk associated with directly expressing our true opinion or point of view. Just the other day, I expressed my opinion about our new President to my “friends” on Face Book, which I will now keep to myself, Before I could take my fingers off the keyboard I received a myriad of let’s say, unflattering character references, criticism and ridicule.
I quickly learned as we all do, that we don’t always get a good result when we share our opinions.
My experience illustrates why you and I and the seniors we serve, have learned to use ambiguous words and stories to communicate and share our Points of View, our Values and our inner most feelings.
Here are a few examples to further illustrate the point:
Someone asks you: How are you feeling? You answer – Fine. We know, based on experience, if we tell someone how we really feel they may not be listening and probably won’t care.
Someone asks you: What you want for your birthday? Answer – World peace. We know that based on experience, if we tell them what we really want we will likely not get it and we will be even more disappointed when the special day arrives.
Someone asks you: If everything is OK at home? Answer – There is a lot going on but in general everything is “hunky dory”. We don’t share that we are so busy that we can’t keep up and our kids are getting into trouble because they are not getting the supervision they need. Why? We know if we tell the truth we leave ourselves open to judgement, unwanted advice or criticism.
Have I convinced you yet? Most of the time we are like two ships passing in the night. We are all talking but rarely listening and the result is that we don’t often share the truth. This makes it difficult to help or support the other person because we don’t have the information we need to help.
The Opportunity: Although we do not often directly share our true situation with others, especially those we do not yet trust, we often share stories and use “code words” while communicating to thinly disguise our true needs, feelings and values. To the untrained person these stories and words are usually misinterpreted based on their perspective and point of view. However, to the trained, caring professional these stories and the “code words” are a window into the person’s values and the key to helping them address their real needs and desires.
Now let’s relate this to serving and selling seniors.
We ask the senior, how they are managing at home? Answer – I’m getting along just fine. The senior’s answer is vague because they are concerned that if they share that they are feeling lonely, scared or worried, the person asking will not care, not respond or worse, may use the information to manipulate them into doing something they are sure they don’t want to do. MAKE A CHANGE!
Here is an example:
You: Mrs. Jones, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Mrs. Jones: I have some hobbies and I stay relatively busy, but lately I get out less often.
At this point the average sales person might launch into a long spiel about the communities’ activities programs and such, but the sales person who has been trained to listen for values would recognize that this conversation and the code words the senior is using are the key to unlocking the opportunity to helping the senior find a solution to her situation.
You: Mrs. Jones, you said that you were relatively busy and that you were getting out less often. Can you share more about that?
Mrs. Jones: Well, to tell the truth, now that my husband is not able to get around very well I spend most of my time helping him and I am not getting out much or even able to do some of the things I like to do. I am feeling a little isolated and lonely right now.
You: Mrs. Jones: I am glad you shared this with me. Let’s talk about what we can do to help you.
Uncover Hidden Values and Serve Your Customers
Understanding the dynamic of how people in general and the seniors we serve use code words and stories to protect themselves, is the first step in beginning to learn to listen to our customers more deeply with the goal of uncovering hidden values, providing exceptional service and converting more sales.
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Keown, P. (2005). Perspectives in the social sciences. Paper presented at SocCon, 2005, Wellington (Sept 25-28, 2005)