Recently, I learned a lesson about the value of standing back from a situation to gain perspective.

I was chatting with Rex Richard, an Arizona pool builder, and mentioned that my son was driving me crazy. I explained that he believes he’s an adult, ready to make any decision, and my job as his parent is now complete. Unfortunately, he’s only 13. “We argue a lot,” I told Rex. “He thinks that any rule I impose is completely unreasonable.”

Rex told me about a trick he used with his own son. He first disengages himself from an altercation, and then comes up with a simple message that he keeps repeating. Shortly afterward, I tried it with my own son. The message that time was, “I realize you want to attend the party, but I’m not allowing you to go.” I then offered to discuss it more fully when he was calm.

Rex’s system worked. Our fight ended when I used the two-part process of first detaching myself, then crafting a single, clear message and sticking to it.

Pool & Spa News has utilized the concept of an objective, consistent message in a completely different way in this issue, but it’s just as effective. Staff writer Josh Keim received permission to tape-record a sales pitch between a Bullfrog Spas representative and a potential dealer during the International Pool & Spa Expo last year in Orlando. Josh then shared the transcript with a negotiations expert, who provided praise, constructive criticism and comments on the interaction.

I believe the expert’s insights were greatly enhanced by his lack of prior involvement with spas. His tips for the Bullfrog rep — when to ask questions, how to step back and reassess the situation — are simple and user-friendly.

In our article, you will find excerpts from the meeting and the expert’s opinions that followed. Maybe his thoughts will inspire you or your staff to look at sales pitches in a new light.

Erika Taylor