Every year or two there is one person you really, really want to reach. Perhaps it’s the potential major donor for your charitable organization; the executive who could say ‘yes’ to the transaction that would change your life; or the aloof relative with the power to restore family harmony.
Say, Oscar-winning actress, Gwyneth Paltrow, wanted to speak with you? I think you’d return the call. Perhaps you’d prefer Microsoft founder, Bill Gates. We tend to respond to those whom we regard as further up the ladder than we are. Calls from people who are prominent, famous, or conspicuously successful in their fields generally get returned.
However, we tend to ignore those whom we see as supplicants. We subconsciously erect walls that insulate us from those we think want something from us. This is why the profession of sales requires such deep understanding of human nature.
Failing to reach someone for a conversation is a profound predicament because seldom is anything resolved, sold, or accomplished without two people talking. Let’s explore the solution that ancient Jewish wisdom provides to this dilemma in human communication.
Wicked king Yeravam (Jeroboam) tried to create his own empire in Bethel in opposition to God’s directions and against the House of David based in Jerusalem. (I Kings 12:25-33) He built an illegitimate temple and altars and even scheduled the consecration in a transparent duplication of the dedication of Solomon’s Temple.
God sent a prophet from Judah to remonstrate with King Yeravam and return his heart to atonement. However, Yeravam insultingly ignored the man of God. Finally, the man of God, recognizing that his attempts to reach Yeravam were futile, no longer addressed the king but he still spoke, addressing himself to the altar. (I Kings 13:2) You could say he left a message.
When Yeravam, pointing his arm at the man of God, called upon the guards to arrest him, he found his arm paralyzed in that position. Now the straying king was eager to talk to the prophet.
The king then spoke up and said to the man of God, “Please entreat the presence of your God and pray…that my hand may return to me”…
(I Kings 13:6)
You could say the prophet got a call-back.
Uncharacteristically, the Hebrew root word for ‘return,’ SHaV, appears in this story fifteen times, hinting at the essential theme; God wanting Yeravam to return to his original Divine mission. (I Kings 11:31). Though that never happened, we see the king returning the prophet’s call as it were. Getting someone to return your call is exactly what we’re discussing.
Let’s see what the man of God did. Recognizing that trying to speak to the king wasn’t working, he spoke to an inanimate object, the altar. With God’s help, he got the king’s attention, and he gave him a gift—the return of his arm’s usefulness.
Though we mustn’t expect God to intervene so dramatically in our cases, we can still learn two lessons from the man of God. Firstly, figuring out how we can offer something, rather than just requesting attention, helps to melt psychological barriers. Secondly, the voice is our best communication tool. Listen to yourself leaving a message. Do you sound weak, whiny or arrogant? Do you speak too quickly or too slowly?
The sound of someone’s voice will always trump an email. Here’s one way to utilize the above principles for the occasional “must-speak-to” person. For about the same price that you’d spend on a special delivery overnight letter (which many use to try and get our attention) purchase a tiny hand-held digital voice recorder. Speak a carefully scripted short message into it and have it delivered as a gift to your ‘must-reach’ person and mark it clearly “Please press PLAY”. Don’t be surprised if you get a call back.
We achieve our best accomplishments together with other people. Learning how human hearts and souls function helps us open communications and forge friendships. There is no better instructor than the Creator of all life. We bring His message to life and enhance your skill set in our audio CD program Boost Your Income: 3 Spiritual Secrets to Success which is on sale online this week.
Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here.
Shalom: My husband and I are both I.T. Engineers. He has more certifications than I, but right now I am working and he is not. It is NOT due to a lack of experience; and I need not “echo” this nations current dilemmas. He has been running another business for now, but customers most often cannot afford his services…READ MORE
This week’s Susan’s Musings: Educated and Clueless:
There are weeks when I want to grab my husband, children and grandchildren and sail off to an uncharted island, cocooning us away from the rest of the world. Needless to say this idea has serious downsides including that I have yet to effectively grow anything in a home garden and that this voyage would render my library card useless. I’m not even sure that Google Earth, let alone government satellites still allow for the existence of uncharted islands.
Nonetheless, the desire to block out a confused world remains strong…READ MORE