Bending Time – II – FOGGING
This is my second blog about the art of bending time.
My motivation to write these bogs about bending time began when I saw and heard a surprisingly deep and meaningful line in the movie, Avengers: Endgame.
I recall thinking that during my career in professional selling, I had been blessed with my mentors teaching me several techniques of, if not buying time, renting it, bending it.
Tony Stark reminds his father of a meaningful gem that Tony learned from his father in his youth:
It’s a cold, sobering fact, but he’s right.
Time cannot be bought with any amount of money.
But it can be rented.
The currency for renting time is, your wits.
wits / (wɪts)
pl / n
Below is the first of three more proven tactics to help you rent time when you need to respond to a challenging situation and move back on track.
One day, while my career of speaking from the platform was developing, Joe Charbonneau called me into his office.
I want you to learn something,” he said. “It’s called, fogging.”
Joe delivered up to 225 speaking gigs a year. He became inducted into the NSA Hall of Fame as a CPE and CPAE.
(If you’re unfamiliar that’s quite all right. These are the two very top designations awarded by the National Speakers Association. It’s like being knighted, or inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame with your name in the record books. At the time Joe held both designations, only 35 other people in the world ranked there with him.)
My point with all that is, I learned early in life to listen with respect to someone who knows what he’s talking about. Joe knew what he was talking about.
And when someone who knows what they’re talking about goes to the conscious effort of calling you into their office to do you a favor and teach you something new that only the elite in the profession know, you listen.
This was getting invited for a batting lesson from Willie Mays, a storytelling lesson from Steven Speilberg, a lesson in manners and ettiquitte from Don Rickles.`
Stand-up comics are the world’s best at handling hecklers from the platform. They are so quick and so practiced, they come up with their own on-the-spot custom replies that immediately downsize a specific audience member.
This isn’t that. FOGGING is a standrad strategy to have in mind so you have the confidence never to worry about dealing with an obtuse comment while you’re speaking to a group.
Here’s how it works.
You’re speaking, and someone in your group takes it upon themselves to interrupt you with an uncomplimentary comment.
As much as you might like to just walk over and smack them out of their seat, you handle it with aplomb, and a slight touch of humor, like the professional you are.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Fogging is verbal aikido You respond with something like,
“You know. I could possibly know more. But what we have at hand is …”
You’re not agreeing with them. You’re just stating a nearly meaningless, yet complete retort to their interruption that sounds like you agree with them.
Yes, of course you can be more knowledgeable. So can anyone.
“You don’t look like a professional speaker!”
“I probably could dress better. You know, I’ve always wanted one of those Brioni suits, and while we’re at it, I’ll take a beautiful pair of Gucci shoes, and go ahead and throw in that gold Rolex, as well. But until I roll up in my gleaming new Bentley, I’m a WISIWIG (what you see is what you get) kind of guy And what I’ve got to share with you is a WISIWIG kind of information ..”
One of my favorite sales war stories occured at my very first sales meeting, at my very first outside sales job and is included in my recent book, HIRED GUN II.
Below is a clear case where fogging could have helped the speaker immensely.
What’s a High-Ticket Item?
I was the newest sales rep when I joined a team of case-hardened veterans at an advertising media company in the early ’80s.
It was a new company based on a new concept, and we were the new sales team. Commando, our sales manager, did a fantastic job of hiring seven excellent sales people, and took me on for his eighth and last available position as an experiment. “My dark horse,” he called me.
A minor power struggle began only three months into our jobs between Commando and EB (the self-proclaimed “Empire Builder”), who were sales managers of two separate and distinct sales divisions.
Commando was a guy with a lot of outside sales experience who didn’t play petty parlor politics; Empire Builder came from selling retail. He claimed he had seen the future of the company, and he was there to climb the corporate ladder. This, for a company that hadn’t even had time to lean ladders against the wall.
One morning, as Commando led a short sales meeting about some of the things we ran into in the field, EB decided to interject and boast about his importance.
EB’s stature erred on the side of a Lilliputian. He liked to stroll back and forth and bluster in a voice an octave lower than normal when he addressed a group, kind of like Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show.
He said, “I didn’t want to interrupt your meeting but I saw some new faces in here and thought I’d introduce myself.” Crickets: chirp…chirp…
EB had taken pains to make himself a key figure in the final job interview for every one of us so it seemed funny that he felt compelled to reintroduce himself.
We already knew who he was; we also knew that this was our meeting and that we didn’t report to him. But I was just the new kid so I sat quietly next to some guy in his camel raincoat and rumpled old Stetson hat, and listened.
“I’m [the Empire Builder],” EB pontificated. “I sold high-ticket items for Defunct Department Stores in East Jesus Junction, Idaho.”
Directly behind me, one of our guys quipped, “Hey EB, what’s a high-ticket item at Defunct Department Stores in East Jesus? A $400 washing machine?”
The room broke apart with laughter. Commando had to contain himself, but we didn’t…so we didn’t.
Truthfully, I don’t remember anything else about that meeting, but I’ll never forget the moment when I knew I found my team.
(Excerpt from HIRED GUN II – Available at airports and Amazon)
Ah, yes. The good old days.
Had EB simply laughed and said something like, “That’s true, that’s about the highest item on the sales floor. But the deals I worked on were storewide sea changes in products and revenue streams.”
Instead, he just stood there stammering and blustering because indeed, $400 washing machines were as much as he could see himself selling – but he was trying to sell himself to us as as sales big shot.
Small moments like this can make or break you when you’re speaking to groups.
I hope you’ll slide the tactic of fogging into your quiver as one more arrow you can use in your defense out there.