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A Work/Life Intersection

By Cheryl Scheir

Right now, I’m working on several projects that emphasize virtual selling skills, that is, the audio, visual, and rhetorical techniques that boost the effectiveness of communication on virtual platforms like Zoom. What’s great is that I wove what I learned from those projects into a challenging real-life conversation with my family, just yesterday. The result: success!

To give you some background, my father’s mobility is becoming increasingly limited due to a progressive illness. He and my mother still live in the house I grew up in, a classic 1970’s split-level. I can almost guarantee that you’ve been in one of these. In our case, there are 4 exterior stairs that go up to the front door, then 2 sets of interior stairs--one set of 7 steps going up and another set of 7 steps going down.

You may have guessed this already, but it’s a mobility nightmare.

Yesterday, as I approached “It’s time for you to move” conversation number three, several best practices for virtual conversations--ones I had just learned and written about for work projects--popped into my head:

  • Identify an objective for your conversation, then select messages that support your objective

  • Sketch out a conversation game plan (eg, a large post-it with a bullet list of what you want to cover) where you can see it, but out of camera view

  • Check in with your audience during the conversation to make sure they’re tracking with you (eg, ask “How am I doing so far?”)

  • To maintain credibility, stay positive and focused; avoid hedging and hesitance

I’m not a salesperson, but I write training material for salespeople, so why not take my own advice about how to sell the idea that my parents should consider moving to a different home? I don’t consider myself an effective persuader by nature, but I am certainly not beneath applying tried and true best practices in personal situations. To be honest, in my potentially difficult conversations with my mother and father, what did I have to lose?

I’m pleased to report that the conversation went better than I ever expected. The answer to my invitation for them to move to a house in my area was greeted with smiles and comments that amounted to a hearty “We accept.”

In my line of work, it’s especially gratifying when a project translates to a real-life application. I’ve used what I know to help people I know navigate prescription denials, educate themselves on treatment options for challenging symptoms, and translate their medication package inserts into language that they can actually understand. Now, the “selling soft skills” that I have learned and taught have brought me to a new, hopeful phase of my life with my parents.

I honestly think that knowledge from work was key to “getting it done.” And that feels really, really good.

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