Being Nice: The New Disruptive Business Strategy

Interview Carol Barkes

Carol Barkes’ area of expertise is in neuroscience-based conflict resolution, communication, and negotiation.  She has been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX, in the Wall Street Journal and is the best selling author of Success Breakthroughs with Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul Author).  She also just spoke at the UN this past June.

Here are a few things to take note of why being nice is the new disruptive business strategy:

1)  When customers cannot connect all the dots, their brains go to the negative and perceive a potential threat.  That means a blank face where emotions cannot be determined makes customers uneasy. Instead, have a soft smile that activates the muscles around the eyes and this will generate trust in the customer’s brain.

2)  Tone and non-verbal communication matters.  Talking at people shuts them down and turns them off.  Instead, remember that while you may discuss the topic at hand many times a day, likely your customer does not.  Slow down and take time to have the conversation like it was the first time ever.

3)  Listen more than you speak and reframe values and emotions of all things.  We are terrible listeners. We wait for our customers to stop talking so we can begin to talk. Instead, make sure we really hear them and especially be conscious to repeat the key emotions or values they are expressing.  This will help them best feel validated and able to get past their frustration.

4)  Look for commonalities and look to really see things from the customer’s perspective.  When you can really truly observe what is going on from that vantage point, you can often find a wider variety of ways to provide value to your customer.

A Real-World Example:  I was just on Whidbey Island for my honeymoon. While I like seafood, I shy away from oysters and mussels because they are a bit gooey for me—its a texture thing. I do, however, enjoy clams if they are not too big. That being said, on Whidbey Island, there is a bay known for world-class mussels.  My husband wanted to try them but only wanted one or two. The restaurants only sell them by the pound or large portion of a pound. At one restaurant, we asked the waitress if there was any way to order a half order of mussels or if there was some way to just purchase one or two.  She stared blankly at us and simply said, “No”. . . and nothing else. We found something else to order and disappointingly went away without being able to experience a Penn Cove Mussel. That night we researched other restaurants and found one that had half mussels/half clams on the menu.  We went to this restaurant the next day only to find that combination was no longer on the menu. I explained to the waitress about my aversion to shellfish with chewy textures and how I really wanted my hubby to be able to try them but he wouldn’t be up for a full order himself. I asked if there was some other way such as getting the half order of clams/mussels or getting just one or two mussels thrown in with an order of clams—you know, like how sometimes you get an odd onion ring mixed in with an order of fries.  The waitress said she would go ask. When she returned, she was bewildered. She said her chef has a policy of adhering to the menu without making changes. When conveyed our request with all of the detail we had shared, she said steam started coming out of his brain as the request seemed to short-circuit him. It appeared his ability to empathize with us was overriding his no change policy. The result—he comped us a full order of mussels so we could try them while still keeping his policy. In the end, I tried two—a miracle in itself and my husband had several.  We wrote a trip advisor review and have already sent several people to the restaurant. The niceness of this staff will bring us back yearly for anniversaries while we will likely never revisit the first restaurant.


Available for Interviews: Carol Barkes

Carol Barkes is a trend-setting mediator, business executive and educator specializing in the use of neuroscience to improve business performance, interpersonal communications, negotiation and conflict resolution processes for optimally successful results.


Jo Allison
Success In Media, Inc.

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