Lessons From A Ladybug
June 21, 2016
by Dan Solin
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Waiting in line for coffee first thing in the morning brings out the worst in everyone. This is especially true in New York City. We are all in a rush to get somewhere.
The lines are long and tempers are short.
There was an especially long line recently at a wonderful coffee shop in the West Village. It was moving slowly. After about five minutes, it was nearly time for a woman to place her order. There were about 10 people behind her. Just then, she noticed a ladybug on her wrist. She turned to the person behind her – a well-dressed executive – and said, “Would it be okay if I took this ladybug outside?”
I was dumbfounded. How would this group of edgy New Yorkers react to her holding up the line, so a ladybug could be spared?
You’ll be shocked by their response. They could not have been nicer. The executive broke into a big smile and told her he would hold her place. The person closest to the door opened it for her. It only took a few seconds for her to go outside, gently let the ladybug go and return. When she did, everyone insisted she take her prior place in line.
You could feel the tension dissolve as this otherwise trivial incident played out.
She sat down at a table to drink her coffee. As customers left, they looked at her and exchanged pleasantries and smiled.
What happened here?
This woman showed extraordinary empathy to an insect. Her fellow patrons assumed that anyone who cared so much for the life of bug was a kind and caring person, and they responded accordingly. These are traits that are universally admired.
There’s broad agreement that empathy is a critical component of the sales process, yet it’s a skill lacking in many advisors. Here’s an example of how empathy can be utilized.
Advisors typically adapt either an active or a passive investment philosophy. It’s not uncommon for an advisor who advocates passive management to be confronted with a prospect suggesting a preference for active investments. The reverse is also true.
A coaching client had precisely this experience. He thought he had converted a prospect into a client, but then he received a white paper from the prospect trashing passive management and recommending an active strategy. A competing firm prepared the paper.
I asked how he would typically respond to the prospect. He told me he would explain the benefits of passive over active management and then punch holes in the points made in the white paper.