I remember the first time I opened the fridge to get a drink of water and accidentally grabbed the wrong pitcher…
Ahhh! Lemonade! My cheeks tingled from the surprising tart flavor as I gulped down an unexpected swig of Country Time.
Woooo-weee! That woke me up at 6 in the morning!
When it comes to conversation, giving flavored answers to fruitless questions works the same way. Think about your responses to ritual questions like ‘How are you?’ ‘What’s up?’ ‘How’s business?’ or ‘How you doin?’ (If you live in New York City)
What’s your answer? Good? Great? Grand? Wonderful? Perhaps you use the ever popular fine.
Guess what? Your answers are BOR-ing! In fact, fine is probably the worst of the lot – it can mean anything! For example, last summer I went to a Cardinals game on a warm Sunday afternoon and felt fine until I vomited from eating 4 orders of nachos…after which I told my girlfriend I felt fine. (F.I.N.E is actually an acronym for ‘Feelings I’m Not Expressing)
Nevertheless, these close-ended, one syllable words are conversation killers. They offer limited spice to your encounters. And most of the time, people use them as fast getaways to be polite, say hello, and get on with their isolated lives.
On the other hand, when you offer a flavored answer to a fruitless question, it magnetizes people. It makes you more approachable. People won’t be able to resist talking to you because you will be so darn sweet! In other words, you will turn water into lemonade.
Fine Doesn’t Sell Couches
I first tried flavored answers a few years ago when I sold furniture in Portland. As a salesman, it was my job to greet every person that came through the store. Daily, my opener to customers was a simple, ‘Good morning, how are ya?’
People responded with ‘Good,’ ‘Fine,” ‘Excellent,’ or whatever bland, monosyllabic pseudo emotion that disguised their real feelings which ended the conversation so the annoying salesman would walk away.
But then, they’d ask the same question back to me. I would respond with such flavored answers as ‘Exhausted from lifting couches,’ ‘This place is a circus on Sundays!’ or ‘I’m hopped up on sugar from our free donuts!’
No customer ever walked away from me! No customer felt uncomfortable! And no customer avoided eye contact so he wouldn’t have to talk to some pushy salesman.
But every customer had fun. Every customer smiled. And every customer engaged with and related to me as they eventually offered their real states of mind.
Then all of the sudden, my sales skyrocketed! Customers loved me! We got to know each other through engaging, fun conversations which made the sales process relaxed and personable. And all I did was give a flavored answer to a fruitless question. (Therein lies a mini sales lesson on building rapport with your customers!)
Now let’s move on to Part 2 of this article, in which you will find out what ingredients make a flavored answer.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Who’s got the best “flavored answer” you’ve ever heard?