Navigating New Workplace Etiquette In The Showroom
By Jessica Schussler of Lion Plumbing | Luxury Products Group NextGen
Someone Needs To Say It
…The first half of 2020 has been the longest decade EVER, right?
One day we were in sunny San Diego psyched for the best year ever and the next it’s July
and we’re entering level 7 of Jumanji, Am-I-right?
I initially sat down to think of 5 positive customer experiences and talk about what happened, why and give some takeaways. However, given the current climate that seemed insensitive, irrelevant and overdone. Instead I thought we could just dive into the uncharted waters that many, like myself, are trying to navigate appropriately in this “new normal.”
As if being an election year wasn’t stressful enough, it feels like we’re getting jumped by life lately. I mean, a Global Pandemic, UFO sightings released from the Pentagon, a Civil Rights Movement, locusts, murder hornets! – And don’t think I forgot how some of ya’ll acted over toilet paper a few months ago, either. With stress at an all-time high I’ve spent the last couple of weeks/months (what month are we even in?) observing appointments in our showroom and thinking about the “new” workplace etiquette for our changing times, and while most of it should be common sense, it goes without saying that isn’t so common after all.
For those paying attention, the Coronavirus is still the hot tea to sip at the moment, and the experts are saying it’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.
But look, I sell toilets for a living, so who am I to talk about the epidemiological studies behind the novel COVID-19? Aside from many correct* self-diagnosis thanks to Web MD, I’m not even a little bit of a doctor or scientist. My philosophy is: unless you’re an expert in that particular field, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it either. You should follow your State/County/City & CDC Guidelines. You also should feel comfortable in the showroom. If you aren’t you need to have a discussion about your safety protocols for enforcing things like social distancing, mask wearing, temperature checks, sanitizing etc. Just keep in mind that your opinion isn’t the only one, and while you don’t have to agree, you need to be respectful.
If you do more listening than talking on average, you have fewer opportunities to say something you’ll regret or that will get you in trouble.
Create a scene. If someone refuses to adhere to the social distancing or personal protective gear guidelines just call your manager.
We recently had a customer in our showroom who scoffed at me when I asked him to put a mask on.
He laughed and made comments throughout the beginning of his appointment, which I wasn’t the salesperson, and continued every time I was approaching nearby to make snide remarks like “Quick! Masks on, she’s coming!” It was – uncomfortable – for the sales consultant helping him, and for me. He was an obviously affluent person and we really needed that sale after having had our doors closed for weeks. There was a lot I wanted to say to this guy, and in hindsight, I am SO glad I didn’t. It was a teachable moment, mostly for me.
I knew that I needed to salvage his appointment, so I did. After a while we were even making jokes! When he was finished with his appointment (and we got that money, honey) he and I laughed together. He told me to look up a TV series, saying I was just like one of the characters. So I did; and then I laughed some more. I emailed him after I watched the clip thanking him for the laugh, apologizing if I came off a little strong about the masks and wished him a great, safe, mask-wearing weekend. He responded thanking me and letting me know he will be back one day. I would bet that he will not only be a repeat customer, but he’s also going to refer his friends and family to us. But that wouldn’t have happened if I would have handled it differently.
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If you’re talking to a customer and you find the conversation getting off topic.
Try to change the subject to something else people are passionate about. Do they have a pets? Do they love to cook? What can you offer to change the subject and enhance your sale? Familiarize yourself with popular and even un-popular add on items so that you can be fluent in changing the course of the conversation to regain control of the appointment. While you may feel very strongly about a hot topic, or you may have an intensely unfavorable opinion of the opposition, do not try to win your coworkers or customers over to your side..
Engage with your associates, employees, and certainly not customers about controversial topics. Whether it be politics or COVID-19 or the many social issues that can come up in between, there is a time and place to talk about these things but it ain’t at work. Unless you’re in a situation where a legitimate wrong or injustice is taking place, if you find yourself wanting to say something—and asking yourself “Is this okay to say?”—chances are you should probably hold that thought and keep it to yourself.
Disagreement does not imply that those who oppose you are all wrong.
If you are the principal, manager, or decision maker of your company I encourage putting policies in place, now. Your consultants should understand that they are required to be polite and respectful but firm in their resistance to indulge in a debate. This should go without saying, but especially with customers.
Stay cool, calm and casual, like Carole Baskin talking about sardine oil. The point is to mitigate the situation before it becomes one. Your opinions are valid, and you have every right to them, but you’re at work to sell luxury products not discuss politics or conspiracy theories. If you find yourself in an appointment with a customer who is trying to engage in conversation that you don’t feel comfortable having, try saying: “That’s an interesting perspective; have you ever considered whole home water filtration system? I will give you some information on it” or “I appreciate your point there, so uh, will you be needing accessories to match your faucet? We have several options to look at, follow me.” If your customer isn’t taking the hint there is nothing wrong with saying something like, “Respectfully, I prefer not to discuss my feelings about that while I’m at work. I do appreciate what you’re saying, but let’s get back to your crapper!”
We live in an age where the average person in the US spends at least 2.5 hours a day on social media.
These days I’ve found myself guilty of wasting even more than that. With that said, it’s important to filter who you let in to your virtual world. Ideally we should all practice the age old – “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all rule” – but we all know that stifling the urge to get into a debate when you’re protected by your phone or computer screen is becoming less and less a thing.
Limit your interactions with people whom you have professional relationship with via social media. Consider what you post and how you interact on your social platforms before accepting or doling out friend requests. Understand your options when it comes to unfollowing, unfriending and restricting your privacy settings. Facebook even has a snooze option! I love the industry friends that I’ve made, but I would rather not sacrifice the relationships I have made because of a difference of opinions on something that is relatively unimportant to our relationship together. I practice the 5 by 5 rule: If it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it. This can basically be put into action with almost every controversial topic out there, except for discrimination, which as a reminder, is never okay or appropriate. For more there, I urge everyone who hasn’t yet to take the LPGxTEACH on Diversity and Inclusion.
Feel obligated to befriend your coworkers, boss, managers, associates or other acquaintances you meet networking for work on social media. Not everyone is going to have the same views as you, some of those differences may cause some friction, and especially if it’s someone you have to see 40 (+) hours a week. We live in an age where the average person in the US spends at least 2.5 hours a day on social media. These days I’ve found myself guilty of wasting even more than that. With that said, it’s important to filter who you let in to your virtual world. Ideally we should all practice the age old – “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all rule” – but we all know that stifling the urge to get into a debate when you’re protected by your phone or computer screen is becoming less and less a thing.
There are brighter days ahead.