I frequently use writing prompts in my teaching and coaching. In fact, when the pandemic lockdown began in the Northeast, I had a regular weekly group and later developed a course under the umbrella of Prompted Expression. In the spirit of sparking my own creativity and getting ideas for my students and clients, I’ve decided to write from a prompt for seven consecutive days and share the results. The prompts are from a deck of cards called Actually Curious.
Writing Prompt Six: Name one thing that makes you nervous or uncomfortable and explain why.
I was at a networking event with a close male friend once. We met a guy who sold real estate in our town and he struck up a conversation. My friend mentioned he was going to be looking for a home soon. The realtor guy hired me as his life coach.
These all seemed like separate things to me on that evening over wine and appetizers. But a month or so into our coaching, the realtor mentioned my husband talking about buying a house. As I told him I wasn’t married, I suddenly made the connection — he thought my friend was my husband and that “we” were going to need a realtor. It was clear from the light dawning on his face that that was why he’d hired me as his coach.
I found it funny.
That mindset. I don’t have it, for the most part. It makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps I don’t want it because I hate being sold to. It feels slick.
I have often wondered how this has worked against me in business. When I worked for media companies — newspapers or major network websites — all the selling was done by the marketing and public relations departments. Readership numbers weren’t my problem.
However, as an independent contractor, who’s going to sell me but me? Every facet of my work, whether writing, coaching or teaching, needs to be sold so I can keep a steady client base, get eyes on my columns, and fill my classes. What to do when being salesy (read: artificial, aggressive) is such a turn-off?
On the best days the answer is to keep being authentic, open, vulnerable, inquisitive and consistent. Word gets out. It spreads. It sells, hopefully.
I don’t know where this strong aversion to sales comes from. Being encroached upon has never been a joy for me.
And yet, my mind drifts to walking into a boutique and building a seller-customer relationship there. Enough of one where the discomfort melts away and becomes about trust based on familiarity, listening, and keen observation skills.
Selling, ideally, is an art form, a way of getting us to see ourselves using or wearing what we are being sold. There’s a host on QVC who I always joke could sell me sand in the desert. It’s because of her storytelling. I see myself with the smooth skin from the fancy product made of the most natural ingredients, wearing the chic suede boots to a gallery, rocking the trendy duster on a cool fall day.
That doesn’t feel slick. It feels like a good fit. A reminder that sales and selling can be organic and beneficial and uplifting.
Next up … read Day Seven (of Seven).