Monday, March 22, 2021

Closing techniques applied to Parenting

Recently I read a book on sales, called SPIN selling by Neil Rackman. It's a pretty good book that talks about the differences between the traditional methods of selling low-value items and high-value items. I read such books because ultimately, we all need to be good salespeople. Either we need to tout our own horns or persuade someone to do certain things, we ought to be able to sell off an idea to anyone. 

These days, my young boy starts to get a mind of his own. He seems to realise the theory of the mind, where he discovers that he can form ideas and decision of his own that can be different from others. More and more frequently, he starts to assert his decision onto us, like the times when he doesn't want to go to school or don't want to brush his teeth. That's when I realised that I need to level up my selling and motivational skills. Young children are the worst kind of client because they are irrational, emotional based and acts on instinctual whims. They can be very hard to persuade, so we must resort to trickery lol

I learnt 4 closing techniques from the book. They are:

1) Assumptive closes - this assumes that the sale has already been made, so we ask questions like "Where would you want this product to be delivered?"

2) Alternative closes - this technique reduces the choice of a buyer, both of which are acceptable to a seller. It goes something like this, "Do you want it to be delivered on weekdays or weekends?"

3) Standing-room-only closes - this is the classic scarcity scare tactic. "We only have the last set left and that I have people on the waiting list waiting to buy."

4) Last chance closes - similar to standing-room-only closes, except that it is scarcity principle used on time. Early bird discounts are based on this principle. "The discounted price is valid till today and will go up tomorrow."

5) Order-blank closes - Fills up the customer's answers on an order form even though the buyer didn't indicate that he is buying yet.

The book says that all these tactics work on low-value sales, so it's a kind of pressure closing techniques. Wouldn't work for high-value sales, because those are based on relationship and that's what the rest of the book talks about. But as a parent, I think most negotiations are low-value type, so these should work well. I'll illustrate how I used some of these tactics:

1) Assumptive closes

When my boy doesn't want to go to school. I took his snack box and milk packet to show it to him. I told him that he can eat this in school later in the afternoon. This assumes that he has agreed to go to school, which he hasn't.

2) Alternative closes

When my boy doesn't want to brush his teeth, I'll ask if he wants to brush his teeth here or there. Both options are perfectly acceptable to me, but giving him a choice will allow him to commit to it. He doesn't know that there is another choice, which is not to brush. Fingers crossed if that happens.

3) Standing-room-only closes

When my boy eats too slowly or is distracted by other things when eating, I'll create some competition by trying to steal a bite. That usually creates a sudden urge to eat faster because the food is not only for him, there's another person waiting to eat it (that's me). I know it's evil, stealing food from young children, but hey, it works :)

This can be manipulative, I understand. There is a blurred line between manipulation and motivation. I do that to my students when I teach them too. Basically, the role of a tutor is also to persuade them to do something that they dislike. If I can't make them do that, nothing much can be changed. I see manipulation as changing the behaviour of others in order to gain from it, while motivation is changing the behaviour of others so that they themselves will gain from it. The difference lies in the intention behind the push for behavioural change and who benefits from this change. 

It might not be so evil when you know that children also employs such tactics to manipulate parents into doing things that they want!


B said...

I find it very intriguing as well whenever I had the time to properly think about dealing with children. Often than not, we unconsciously try to enforce our beliefs and thoughts into the child but it is a good idea trying to give them options that in a way limit the bad options they could take from their side.

la papillion said...

Hi b,

I think you don't even need to enforce it. They will model after you whether you enforce it or not haha! Which is why parenting is really a huge responsibility. Share some tips and hacks if you have for dealing with kids lol

Patrick T. said...

Some of the theories that might help new parents are John Watson on behaviourism (his experiments were done before ethics became a necessity), BF Skinner on operant conditioning and Albert Bandura on social cognitive thinking. Jean Piaget's cognitive development theory is most important of all imo if you want to have a direction on what to focus on depending on the age.

For example, kids before primary school tend to interact based on sensations and movements, pleasures and pain but is only starting to develop mental representations hence it is so important for them to be exposed to vivid story telling which will be useful for them later on. Application of Skinner's conditioning would be highly effective but the end results will be biased towards what the parents want and could reduce self-efficacy and differentiation in the child if not kept in check.

Primary school kids start to understand symbolism but is natural that they remain egocentric and thus need to be properly guided; they understand very well the "here and now" but not so much on the hypothetical. In fact, without being clouded by what-ifs, they might even be clearer than adults on the obvious which is why kids say the darnedest but logical things.

Exam tonight so I am just regurgitating. :)

la papillion said...

Hey pat ge,

Haha, I actually read this in a childhood development textbook when my kid is born. When I was reading, I was thinking to myself that all these theories are useless unless I know how to apply them. So I switched to a more academic and theoretical understanding to a more practical approach, like reading those books on montessori. That's where I stopped before I got swamped by the realities of parenthood lol

Patrick T. said...

I know what you mean. Remember the time we learned signals to trade stocks? Too many signals makes trading more difficult?

Same idea here. So the trick is to pick the one that is closest to the age group and relevant to your goals and stick with just that.

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