I hide. I don’t answer my phone or return calls. I’ll turn the other way or act like I didn’t see the person coming. I’ll turn around and go to another restaurant. I’ll leave an anonymous note. Anything to avoid an awkward situation.
Then I started buying and selling items on Craigslist. This provided a great opportunity for me to face my fear of awkward situations by fire. You see, every time I sell something, the buyer always asks questions. Questions such as “How long have you owned it?”, “Did you buy it new?”, “Why are you getting rid of it?”, “Have you had any problems with it?”, and all the way to “How much did you pay for it?”. What did I get myself into?
At first, I would slither around each question. “Why are you getting rid of it?” would be answered “We just need the money.” which was true, just not all of the truth. I would answer the questions, just without volunteering ALL of the information. “How long have you owned it?” would be answered by a terse “Not too long.” I would then immediately start talking about the various features etc.
Then one day I changed. It wasn’t because I had climbed to the top of a 40 ft tree without a harness, thus gaining fearless courage.
I just gave up. A man was asking about an appliance that I was selling, and I was sick of blathering out creative answers. I also may have had 5-6 washer and dryers in my garage.
I explained how I buy and sell (in this situation) appliances on Craigslist. I told him how I clean them up and do basic maintenance on them etc. I then plugged the dryer into the wall and let him see it work. His response?
“That’s really cool. I’ll take it. Can you help me load it into my truck?”
He didn’t walk away. He didn’t frown. He got the item he wanted, clean and in great working condition at a great price. He was happy as a clam.
I’ve haven’t tap danced around a question since. My fears of awkward situations were completely overblown. In fact, I feel like the fear at first actually made the situations more uncomfortable, as people are very discerning. They can smell when you aren’t quite telling the whole truth. If it wasn’t so awkward for them to walk away, I think many more of them would have in my early days of buying and selling.
Hundreds and hundreds of times I’ve told people exactly what I do. Maybe 1 in 200 leaves without purchasing the item. The rarity of people not buying the item from me is pretty mind boggling. More often than not they end up fascinated and inspired by how I’m not only providing for my family, but thriving.
They don’t want negative surprises. Instead, blow them away by under-promising and over-delivering on your product. They want to buy from someone that they can trust. Become that person.
I’d love to answer more questions with more specifics in the comment section below.