Diary of an Ad Man

February 23, 2008

Linear Thinking VS. Parallel Thinking

Filed under: Public Speaking,Uncategorized — linwoodaustin @ 2:46 am

Here is one of a series of motivational speeches I wrote for a client.
It’s an important concept and perhaps you will gain something from it.

PS… Perhaps I can write something for you.

Linear Thinking– Rough Notes…

Welcome back to our 3rd, but perhaps the most important in our series on Linear Thinking vs Parallel Thinking.

So far we have discussed how important it is to think ahead-Allow your mind to examine problems and situations in a combined way. If this happens-then this and this and this will also happen. In our example of the airplane full of passengers that was sitting on the tarmac for hours being repaired and refueled it should come as no surprise that the toilets would overflow-right?

Another simple example would be that one must drain a water heater before cutting into the pipes-Right? And one must shut the water off to the house-Right? Why? Because we don’t want water all over the floor-Right?

So, in the simplest terms, parallel thinking is planning two or three steps ahead to avoid problems down the road.

Are you with me so far? Well… parallel thinking is not just about mechanics. It’s not just about shutting off the electricity before you stick you tongue in a light socket. There is another realm where parallel thinking is a must, an absolute must.

I’m talking about the field of human communication.

This is by far the most important human endeavor we can explore. Everything depends on it. Roads are built on human communications; great sky scrappers are built on good communications, cars, computers, clothing, clocks and cloning. Clearly everything depends on good human communication.

And when you’re standing in front of a customer how you communicate is the single most important factor in getting the job done. And it is the single most important factor in how much money you will be paid.

Let’s think about this for a minute. What you say is vital to the outcome you want.

Way back when tape recorders were first invented some researchers hid them under the counter at various drug stores, which had lunch counters. After listening to the recorded conversations between the soda fountain clerk and the customers, they discovered that 7 out of 10 times, when the customer ordered a coke and the clerk would say “large or small” the people would say “small” seven out of ten times. Isn’t that amazing? But when they trained the soda fountain clerk to say “large one?” 7 out of 10 times the people would say “Yes!”

Now we are discussing parallel thinking and how important it is in communication.

The human mind craves imagination and the human mind is somewhat lazy. So when people ordered a soda pop they had the thirst. And they had the discretionary money to burn on a drink.

So, after ordering a coke the polite soda fountain clerk says “large or small?” It is a choice that must be made. Why because the soft drink sellers want to move as much coke as possible so they offered large as well as small. And the mind has already decided to quench its thirst so they’ve gone beyond the old drink or no drink?” They are going to purchase a drink. They brought it up. They ordered a soda- Now the option is large or small. And because the mind is somewhat lazy it repeats the last option 7 out of 10 times. Large or small? Goes the question. And the drink buyers naturally and most often says what? Small- Right.

But when the clerk says “large one?” The mind in its natural way of taking the path of least resistance says – “yes!” Y-E-S.

So what we want to discuss here for the next few minutes is how can we do some Parallel thinking when we are trying to communicate to those we love – to our customers to our co-worker and perhaps even to our enemies.

Okay where do we begin? We have to start with words. I love you words are all we have. Right? And we want to examine the words we use – but more importantly we want to examine the reaction to the word we use. That’s right – the reaction.

Remember, 7 out of 10 times the reaction to the phrase “large or small” was “small!” And remember 7 out of 10 times the reaction to the phrase “large one?” Was yes.

So when we are out there in the big wide world and we are trying to get what we want, we must consider carefully the reaction we are going to get from the words we use.

When we go into a customers home and we aim to sell her an expensive air conditioning unit or new toilet seat or new faucet, the words we use will cause some kind of reaction. And our incomes are dependent on the right kind of reaction – right? So we want to use the right kind of words – right.

We are not here per se to discuss selling air conditioning units or selling new sewer lines or anything else. Instead we want to explore to our ability to engage the customer in conversation and to get the desired results – say 7 out of 10 times.

Words have meaning, right? And words used in various combinations involve some type of reaction, Right? And….get this, this is important – words used in the right combination in the right context ware the real key to Parallel thinking versus linear thinking when it comes to human communications.

For example lets take the simplest of phrases – I love you.

Simple words right? I love you. And 7 out of 10 times – lets say- I’d get a good response. But context is everything.

If I say to my wife – I love you- I’ll again get a good response. – Most likely. But let’s say I’m drunk in a biker bar and I say to some biker dudes wife – I love you. Well, the general response may not get me anything good, right? It might be even worse if I said it to the biker dude. So – words and context get reaction, right. And you want the right reaction.

So here we go.

If you want to be a great communicator, and remember – great communication make the most money. If you want to be a great communicator you must think ahead. You must realize that if you say blah, blah, blah the man or woman of the house will have a certain response. A reaction to those words-

You know this – you know that if you say I love you to a biker dude, you’ll get a reaction entirely different than if you say the same words to your mom. And if you want to make the most money, ethically and honestly in this business you must also say the words that will give you the right reaction.

So just for the records – here were not going to go up to all our customers and say – I love you – okay. Just wanted to get that straight.

So what are we going to say – we are going to tell them some nice things – to get a nice reaction. We are going to tell them some horrible things – to get a frightful reaction – then we are going to tell them some nice things again to make everything all better.

Linear thinking VS. parallel thinking, right. So lets draw a line here and pretend we say something here and the lady of the house says something back – well are we shocked that she had that reaction to what we said? If so, we try to smooth it over by saying something here and she says something back. So we try again and so forth.

When we have this conversation enough, it no longer comes as a surprise to us that she says XXX. Pretty soon we know that most likely she is going to react in this way or that to our message. That’s when we begin to get a clue. So – especially if we want to make more money – we begin to figure out that instead of saying “large or small?” We start saying “large one?” Then the buy gives us a more desirable reaction. It’s like playing Chess – Chess encourages parallel thinking. In Chess you say to yourself – if my opponent moves here I’m going to move there. And if my opponent moves here and here, I’ll move here and here and here.

Parallel thinking means you’re not caught off guard. Wayne Gretsky – you know that name, the great hockey player. Someone asked him the secret to his greatness, and Gretsky said, “ I never skated to where the puck was going to be. And just heading in the direction of where the puck was going to be gave me the edge I needed over the other team.” That my friend is parallel thinking. Planning ahead.

It’s like the best drivers are known to look way down the road, and plan ahead. The worst drivers only react to what’s immediately in front of them. So when your talking to a customer you know that if you say “I’ve got some bad news Mrs. Jones, its going to cost you $300.00, – Mrs. Jones is going to have a sour reaction. You are begging for it. You’re setting yourself up for it. But if you say “Good news Mrs. Jones, I can solve your problem and make sure everything will be okay for only $300.00.” Mrs. Jones’ reaction will be entirely different. The question is how do you want Mrs. Jones to react? This is not hard. All you have to do is get inside her head for a few minutes. Find out what she likes. What she wants. How she is likely to respond to this or that.

Parallel thinking –
How is she going to react if you track mud on her carpet? How is she going to react if you show up late? How is she going to react if you don’t give her any options about how to solve her problem?

You see Mrs. Jones is not that hard to figure out.

If you are dealing with mechanical things – like a broken furnace. – You have to ask yourself questions like – what will happen if I do this and this and this. And what will happen if I don’t do this and this. So with a mechanical situation you run a diagnosis you use your tools to discover the best approach to solving the problem. But when you are dealing with the customer you can’t just ask yourself question about what will happen if I do this and this. You have this amazing tool.

If a diagnosis tool and its called your mouth. So use it and ask her or him questions. Perhaps questions like – How long have you lived here Mrs. Jones? How many people use this bathroom every morning? How do you think this drain got clogged up? When was the last time you had a tune up on this furnace? Do you plan on staying in your home 5 years or 10 years? Do you like saving money? Are those shrubs important to you? Do you want a beautiful faucet that will last 10 years?

You see by asking questions you are setting the stage for parallel thinking. After enough questions you know that you can say XX and you’ll most likely get the reaction you want 7 out of 10 times.

Remember Columbo? The detective who wore a frumpy old rain coat. And he was always asking goofy questions that on the surface seemed stupid? He acted so goofy and dumb that the bad never took him seriously surely he was too goofy to solve this crime. But all the while he was just asking one question after another to setting the stage. He was connecting the dots.

This is what good salesmanship is all about. You ask the right kind of questions that you know exactly that if you make XXX presentation you’ll get X response and if you make a different presentation you’ll get a different response.

I’m telling you a great secret here. Pay attention. Never assume you know what is in their mind.

You must, you must, you must ask questions to make sure you are headed in the right direction. For example: and this is a true story from one of our members, a plumbing contractor. It was late – Christmas Eve, the phone rang and the customer wanted a drained cleared right now. It was urgent. Guests were over, etc. And the customer pleaded no other plumber even bothered to answer the phone. So the plumber assumed the customer would be grateful and not mind the after hours-emergency fee. So he went out, did the job, got the check from the lady and later when the husband heard how much it was and that it only took him a few minutes to do the job, he was furious and put a stop payment on the check. He said not even his lawyer charged that much per hour. Remember we want to solve problems for ourselves as well as for our customers – so – never assume – always ask questions. I suppose in this case the questions should have centered on “Ma’am I can come out but do you realize there will be an extra charge?” Or some such. My point is you must diagnose whether or not you want this “customer” to be your customer. Be like Columbo – Ask questions. We are not going to survive by being linear thinkers. We must at all times think and ask the WHAT IF type of questions.

I hope you have enjoyed our discussions on linear thinking versus parallel thinking. And I hope you use the concepts to jump ahead and get more out of like than you’ve ever gotten before.

Remember Poem.

I’m Terry Nicholson, clap, clap and I’m very excited about your future.


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