Sunday, January 30, 2011

Its All About Relationships

A few weeks ago my wife and I were shopping in a craft store. As usual, I was sporting my school’s umbrella with logo showing proudly. We passed a young couple (the same age as us) in the aisle. They stopped and asked us about our school and we began a very pleasant conversation. It turned out we had lots of similarities as a couple. We talked for about 10 minutes there in the store.

We moved along to locate the items we needed, only to run into them again about 5 minutes later. In my head I am thinking, “Okay God, what do you want me to do. I never stop and talk to people in stores.” After talking for another 10 minutes, we exchanged phone numbers and had an understanding that we would get together sometime.

Photo by BurlapZack on DeviantArt
In my head I was thinking back to that Seinfeld episode where Jerry says that after a certain age you really don’t accept applications for new friendships. They don’t know the people, places, or things you like and it is like starting all over. Honestly I walked away from the store feeling like I had just been asked out on a date by a stranger…and said YES!

A few days passed and my wife and I discussed the options for the double date with our new “buddies”. We thought about lunch (not too formal, usually shorter). We thought about dinner and a movie (seems nicer, and you don’t have to talk too much in a movie if things go badly). We thought about just inviting them to our church, or going to theirs (something we had in common).

The time came when my new friend sent me a text message asking for a good time to call. So we set a time, and right on the stroke of 8:30 p.m. my phone rings. Cordial conversation begins, but only for about a minute. Right away this gentleman gets to the point. He said, “I know you said you work at a small private school and your wife stays home. So I thought I would share something with you that has worked for us. Have you ever heard of Amway?...”

Instant brain shutdown for me…This guy had the audacity to give me a huge sales pitch, over the phone, after talking to me for 20 minutes in a craft store. Where is the love? Where is the trust? Where is the relationship? It wasn’t there. What made him think I would bite on his pitch?

As educators (and administrators) we need to understand that we are trying to get students (and teachers) to buy into something. Each school has its own product. First off, our product must be quality and legitimate, that should be a no-brainer. Secondly, we must take time to develop the relationships (with students, parents, teachers, and admin) so that the heart and soul behind our product is visible when decision time comes. Without those relationships, we risk coming across like presumptuous, arrogant salesmen.

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