Saturday, December 4, 2010

Story of a confused shopkeeper

Whenever I go shopping with my cousin sister ‘Mani’, I get to learn many things from her especially regarding ‘Bargaining’, but as soon as I try to implement her guidelines when I am alone, things do not work. May be I forget something or I simply could not implement the things she teaches me while shopping.  Her impeccable bargaining skills also fascinate me a lot and I can never forget those peculiar expressions of victory on her face when she wins the bargain with the dealer.

Whenever I come across such bargaining incidents, I feel surprised and each incidence adds up to my surprise every time.  I really wonder how she can really propose illogical (apparently) deals and successfully carry out the bargaining.

Once I told her an incidence when I went to a grocery shop, paid money and returned home without picking up the goods. While I couldn’t control my laughter while telling about my silliness, she took this incident very seriously and started preaching ‘How to become a good consumer and be aware of rights…and all…As I had no option but to listen to her, I also started to learn about consumer rights.

She tried her level best to teach me ‘How to scold the shopkeeper if he doesn’t give the free thing on any product, how to quarrel for your rights as a consumer…and so on.

I realized that I could not even follow her basic instruction that we should first be clear with our communication.

So to boost my confidence in quarreling with the shopkeeper, she purposefully returned from a shop without asking and collecting a free thing on a shampoo.  She came home and told me to go to the same shop and ask for that free conditioner sachet.  My legs started trembling, just to think of fighting with the shopkeeper.

I: How can I go and ask for the free thing….as you bought the shampoo, how will he recognize me?
Sis: So what’s the big deal? Tell that a girl just has purchased a shampoo and forgot to collect the free sachet, I am her sister and want to collect it, now go ……..
I: See..Mani….I really find this illogical, put yourself in the place of that shopkeeper, will you believe any stranger, pretending somebody’s sister?
Sis: Don’t make any excuses, go….
I: aa……I really find this strange….
Sis: go….

Due to her insistence I had to go to that shop.  I went there and stood in front of a shopkeeper.

I just didn’t understand how to start the conversation.
I: Do you have shampoos?
Shopkeeper: (with a strange look) yes
I: Show me that big bottle….
Shopkeeper: thak (This is the sound generated when he put the bottle on the counter)
I: I can’t see any free thing on this?
Shopkeeper: So?
I: Do you sell shampoos having a free sachet of a conditioner?
Shopkeeper: (Reluctantly and with a bit irritation) which one do you want?
I: The one with which has a free sachet of a conditioner.
Shopkeeper: Thak  (this is the sound of that second bottle)
I: Now let me tell you….Do you know Mani?
Shopkeeper: What? …
I: Oh, sorry, How come you will know each and every customer…. I can understand.

Shopkeeper: What are you talking about?
I: …about a shampoo which has a free sachet of a conditioner.
Shopkeeper: …..What is the relevance of it now?
I: See this is not the way to behave with your customer…(I started implementing the things learned from my sister)
Shopkeeper: Even if the customer confuses you?
I: Did I confuse you?
Shopkeeper: So what are you doing now?
I: Fighting with you for a shampoo which has a free sachet of a conditioner.
Shopkeeper:  ??? ….Which shampoo do you want to purchase?
I: I don’t want to purchase
Shopkeeper: What? So why did you come here?
I: Do you know “Mani”?
Shopkeeper: (about to cry)

Before that shopkeeper starts crying, my sister Mani came in, looked at me with the peculiar expressions and noticed embarrassment on my face.

After that day she stopped giving me a big lecture on ‘Consumer Rights’ and ‘How to communicate effectively with shopkeepers’. In her opinion I failed on the very first step of bargaining which requires ‘Clear Communication’.

Though this was a funny incidence, I could learn many things from it. I realized this, when I recently attended the workshop on client communication. In this training, I learned while communicating we should:
·         State the purpose/ Agenda
·         Define a common terminology
·         Ask relevant questions
·         Paraphrase and validate the points
·         Listen actively
·         Summarize
Of course that session covered lots of other things as well but some of the important points I mentioned here.
If you take a look at the above conversation you will get to know that what mistakes I did. I did not state the purpose; I straight away started talking without giving him any frame of reference or stating my purpose of coming there. Most of us unknowingly make others confused like this confused shopkeeper.
This was an incident when I was a school going kid. This incident taught me a lot about the importance of ‘Clear Communication’. I recollected this while thinking about the guidelines regarding effective communication. Many small incidences teach us a lot and help us avoid mistakes....Don’t you think so?