I was on fire
I was at a Girl Guiding Day last week, helping out with some activities for Ukrainian and Afghan child refugees.
I was on fire.
Not literally, I just happened to be in charge of the fire activity, which as a casual pyromaniac, suited me down to the ground.
What I WAS nervous about was the language barrier.
Turns out I had no reason for nerves – their English was generally pretty good (much better than the zero words I could speak in either of their languages!).
And once I got into it, I just talked through everything I was doing.
Some of it – I’m sure – was incomprehensible to them. But they seemed to understand the majority, especially when I encouraged them to sing a “rude song” (sticking out their tongues), or to practise their screaming in case they got burnt.
Unfortunately, my approach wasn’t shared by the two other people running the activity, who went about their business in an odd, stony silence.
Looking back, I’m sure they probably nervous about the language barrier (just like I had been), but crucially they didn’t attempt to discover whether the children could understand or interact with them.
They just kept quiet.
Many business owners behave in the same way – they don’t speak enough to their clients.
Can you imagine ordering something online and then hearing NOTHING from the supplier until after it was delivered?
Some business owners are worried about “saying too much” to their clients, just like my co-hosts.
“What if they don’t want to read what I write?”
“What if they get annoyed by another email?”
What they forget is that they have a “captive audience” – people who’ve actively taken an interest in their business – and if they can’t engage them, what hope do they have of engaging anyone else?!
Silence, as the children showed my co-hosts, does not lead to engagement, so it’s worth asking how silent you appear to your clients.
Silence, in this case, is not golden.