My first official blog entry! I guess I will get this off my chest. In my former life, I used to be a …..(wait for it) salesperson. Salespeople are often viewed as caricatures, and stereotypes associated with them are cheesy radio voices, finger snapping and pointing, and sketchy morals.
I always tried to approach being a musical instrument salesperson the same way I approached any job involving human interaction. It was never about forcing a sale, but instead, building a relationship with the customer. The "hard sell" approach almost always backfires, and customers can usually sense when you are being overly pushy or not genuine. Instead, I always tried to get to know the customer and their talents and interests outside of music, as well as to tell them a few things about me. This kind of self-disclosure is so important when connecting with someone.
These same principles apply to virtually any profession, but especially in social work and counseling. People who come to you for help need to feel comfortable with you before they trust you enough to open up about their challenges. Just like a customer in a store, they often come into the school or counseling center nervous and defensive, and no one is at their best when they are in this mindset. Counselors and social workers often try to dive in right away and "solve" the problems of people that come to them for help without first building a relationship. This is the "hard sell" equivalent in the counseling profession, and it often drives people away rather than encouraging them to come back to you.
I think of the quote by John Maxwell, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," and this certainly applies to many situations other than counseling and sales.