Improvement through Improvisation

I picked up Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, and thought it might help me, a timid and soft-spoken person, express myself in a convincing way.

What I read truly moved me. I found that in today’s world selling is less about convincing others and more about meeting their needs.

Life isn’t just a game of rock-paper-scissors for the last piece of pizza. Pink explains that “too often our starting point is competition — -a win-lose, zero-sum approach rather than the win-win, positive-sum approach of improvisation.” We make the mistake of focusing on personal agendas rather than mutual purpose.

Pink illustrates several skills necessary in today’s world to be able to sell effectively. What really resonated with me were Pink’s improvisational exercises that promote listening and understanding.

The “yes and” improvisational technique Pink shares can equip individuals to move others in all facets of life.Think back to the last event or project you planned with a team. It could be anything from a family reunion to a company trade show exhibit. Were there moments when personal or departmental agenda pushing stopped the flow of ideas? Pink suggests that responding to ideas with “yes and” rather than “no” or “yes but” helps teams understand concerns and develop ideas more fully.

I want to be a “yes and” person. I know choosing to say “yes and” when planning or brainstorming will stretch me to find problems and solutions by thinking outside of the box. I may be timid and soft-spoken, but I know that seeking to serve others rather than pushing a personal agenda will motivate me to contribute. I want to improve through improvisation.

Moving Others is more than convincing, it is tapping into values and concerns. To Sell is Human, not simply because we all are in the business of selling. To Sell is Human because to sell effectively we need to treat others as people, not just moving pieces.

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