Monday, December 1, 2008

How to Talk to Smokers So They Will Listen To You

Think about when you bought your last car. Did the salesman sell you a car that you really didn't want? Or did you buy a car that you wanted and the salesman provided information and helped facilitate your buying decision? Who was in control? Salesman are taught how to overcome objections to the sale. Did your car salesman manipulate you into buying the car by overcoming all objections or did the salesman provide a solution to your problem? We don't want to be sold something, but we want to buy, subtle difference but a definite one. The salesman you want to do business with is the one that had your best interests at heart regardless if they made the sale.

I consider myself a health educator since I have been helping smokers quit for 18 years and I expect to receive my Masters degree in health psychology in December 2009. Yet my employment background has been in sales for almost 30 years. One of the reasons why I have been so successful with smokers is because I still consider myself a salesman and I have put "sales techniques" to work to help others quit.

In sales, there are a few objections that you cannot overcome such as the buyer doesn't have any money and can't get a loan, then, they can't buy. With smokers there is no objection that I can't overcome because I believe that everyone wants to buy good health (quit smoking), even if they don't know it YET. Someday they WILL want to quit and I want to facilatate the day arriving sooner than later. When talking to smokers, I'm trying to sell "good health" and they may not be buying right now but the last thing I want to do is try to manipulate and overcome all objections and "sell" the smoker, because that will only lengthen his ultimate decision to quit (or "buy" good health). Many try to motivate smokers by nagging, shaming and blaming, none which work but will also lengthen the time before they decide to quit. My job as a salesman of good health is to provide positive encouragement, reinforcement and motivation, and to promote self-efficacy and persistence.
Motivation: finding out the values of the smoker that conflict with the value they find in smoking and present that incompatibility.
Positive encouragement: No matter how small a step the smoker takes to quitting, is something to celebrate: "That's great that you quit for a week...."
Promote self-efficacy & persistence: " ....and I know that when you are ready to try again, you will be successful!"
No Nagging: When you nag, you are trying to force someone to do something that they don't want to do--in other words, they are trying to sell you a car that you don't want to buy.
No blaming or shaming: Blaming someone makes them feel wrong and promotes shame which is the feeling that there is something instinctively wrong with you. Nagging blaming and shaming are not conducitive to the lasting change that is desired. But the smoker must make his own decision which you can support and encourage.

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