make an offer

 

In our previous article “Garage Sale Connections,” we discussed various kinds of garage sale shoppers. In this article, we will explore our experience having a garage sale where we asked shoppers to make an offer on items.

 

The Rules

 

For our “Make an Offer” sale, people selected the items that they wanted and then made an offer for the items. We reserved the right to counter-offer if the offer was too low. And, we jokingly included in the fine print that people making ridiculously low offers would be fed to the neighbor’s pet alligator.

 

The sale had mixed results. Some people loved that they could make an offer. I believe they ended up buying more because items didn’t have a fixed price. Also, negotiations over the price seemed to serve to create a stronger connection as they often told us about what they were going to do with the items or why they wanted a lower price.

 

There were people, however, that really struggled with the idea of making an offer. Some of them didn’t know how to price the items, but others just couldn’t seem to comprehend the concept.

 

Culturally, Euro-Americans seemed to grasp the concept and be okay with it more than people from other cultures. People from cultures that like to barter seem to be thrown off by this approach, as they didn’t have a starting point. They didn’t know how to go about making a bid for the items. Plus, I sensed a reluctance to make a connection, which is really beneficial in this type of sale.

 

The Most Challenging Issue

 

The most challenging issue was language. When English was not the person’s first language or they spoke little or no English, explaining the concept just wasn’t possible most of the time. In those cases, we resorted to setting a price as that was the only way to make a sale.

 

We also set the price for children as they had no idea what to offer for something. Children always get good deals and generally speaking they are our favorite customers. A big portion of this is that they are the most open to making a connection.

 

Overall, I think we made as many connections or more with people doing the sale in this manner. Monetarily, things averaged out about the same as if we had priced the items. Some offered slightly more than we would have asked while others offered slightly less. There were a few cases where the offer was low enough that we counter offered and we were able to reach a deal in most of those cases.

 

Feed Them To The Alligator

 

We had only one case where we needed to feed a couple to the alligator. Each of them made offers that were just completely ridiculous. The man offered $4 for a nice cased dartboard and a set of very nice unique goblets. The wife offered something equally ridiculous for some other items. I explained the value of the items to them and they played innocent. The man said, “Well, I didn’t know. I just liked them.” Well, you don’t have to know a lot to know that those items are worth more than his offer. These are the type of people that are looking not just for a deal, but really to take advantage of you. They are not people with whom you want to make a connection because that makes you vulnerable to their actions.

 

In contrast to this couple, we had one gentleman carefully picked out some silk flowers. We found it unusual for an older gentleman to be selecting flowers with such care. In our discussion with him after the sale, we learned that he was buying the flowers to place them at the gravesites of his wife and daughter. His story brought tears to our eyes. So, despite selling the flowers for less than we would have liked, we were very pleased with the sale. We were happy to have made the connection for a brief time and happy to know that the flowers were going to honor two people he so obviously loved.

 

Bottom line . . . Connections can be found anywhere – even garage sales!

 

 

 

garage sale connections

 

Garage sales are an interesting time to both observe and connect with people from many different cultures who have many different reasons for being at the garage sale.

 

Some of the people are at the garage sale because they really can’t afford to shop in stores. Our garage sale is usually really good for them as we price household goods and clothing below the price at the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Thus, they can shop at our sale and spend less money. We have also been known to give them a very good discount even on these prices if we feel they have no money.

 

Observation

 

It sometimes requires some excellent observation skills to know which people are truly in need and those that are trying to make you believe they are in need just to get a deal. The two have very different energy.

 

Of course, there are people whose culture is about bartering. Realizing this is the case is important because they are always going to try to talk you down from whatever price is given. My favorites are those that insult you or your items if you don’t accept their very low price. They give me a chuckle. Connecting with them enough to know what is happening gains you money and saves hurt feelings.

 

Then, there are those that speak little to no English. We have found that some of them still manage to easily connect with us while others do not. Clearly, fluently speaking the same language is not required in creating a connection. Likewise, speaking the same language and even being quite alike does not guarantee a connection.

 

Best Connections

 

Some of our best connections are with casual garage salers. Some of them are out just to enjoy the day, some are looking for something to do and to have a conversation with people, and others just enjoy seeing items people have for sale. These people have time and often want to have conversations. We sell less to them, but sometime the connection and conversation lead to sales of unexpected items. They are probably the least predictable of all groups.

The most predictable are the professional garage salers. They come, look for the specific items of interest, buy without hesitation, and leave just as fast. These people are generally not open to connecting, but are easy to spot.

 

All in all, garage sales can be an interesting way to observe people. Listening to people, watching how they look at items, and seeing what they skip over tells you a lot about them.

 

In the next article, we will discuss our experience having a “Make an Offer” Sale.

 

 

 

In the early days of telephones, an operator connected someone with another party by plugging wires into a switchboard. If everything worked properly, this action established a voice connection between the two parties. However, occasionally the operator crossed the wires and a person ended up talking with someone they had not intended to contact. The analogy of crossing wires spread into communication between people when there was a misunderstanding between the two parties. “Sorry, I think we crossed our wires” became a standard apology.

 

Miscommunication

 

People are not always aware that wires have gotten crossed. Yet, the miscommunication may still cause emotions to flare. In extreme cases, a person may become so upset that they completely disconnect from the other person without the other person knowing why. Other times, however, the person recognizes that there was a miscommunication allowing them to take corrective action.

 

Human beings are constantly involved in some form of relationship with others. Thus, they are constantly vulnerable to miscommunication.

 

Ambiguity of the spoken word contributes to wires being crossed. English, in particular, contains many possible interpretations of the same set of words. Fortunately, it is believed that the actual words spoken may make up as little as 7% of communication with body language and tone accounting for the remainder.

 

Body Language

 

A person cannot convey body language in writing without writing a small script. Although tone can be expressed through the written word, it can be challenging. Thus, the writer must convey their message using only a small fraction of the communication tools available when speaking.

 

Even when speaking, non-verbal communication may be challenging. Often, people are not conscious of the messages being sent to others via their non-verbal cues. Sometimes, the truth shows even when the speaker intends to hide it. For instance, a person’s true feelings may show when they are trying to encourage a friend, but feel in their heart that the situation will not work out. A person has to be both aware and practiced to hide or change non-verbal messages.  Even politicians and others who are coached on body language often slip up and let their true feelings show.

 

Even when the intended message is conveyed, the recipients of the message may not interpret it as it was intended. Connections can become strained. And, sometimes those connections permanently break over something minor.  If properly understood,  the message would be accepted and have little or no impact on the relationship.

 

Things To Consider

 

If a person gets upset about something that someone says or does, they need to consider if they are properly interpreting the message. First, the person may desire to consider if there are alternative ways to interpret the message. Second, the person might ask the other person to explain further. Third, if the person believes they received the intended message, they might explain to the other person the message they received and how it affected them.

 

The person may just find out that wires got crossed. By clarifying the intent, it can potentially strengthen connections with others as they engage in caring and thoughtful communication.

 

 

 

 

Millions of stimuli come flying toward most people every day. Because of the volume of information, people have to very quickly identify the information and decide the action to take on the information. Some information is simply ignored while other information is filtered and connected to previous knowledge and experiences.

 

Although, people filter information out of necessity, it can also be a detriment at times. We can decide to throw away information too quickly that could have led to learning or a wonderful experience. Similarly, quick decisions we make about the information that we retain can result in some mis-associations between that information and previous knowledge or beliefs.

 

Missed Opportunities

 

Since people are quick to dismiss information, they miss opportunities. This is why people are more likely to notice things and even to fall in love when they are on vacation or out of their usual environment. In these situations, people tend to slow down and pay attention. In part, this is because everything is unfamiliar and they must analyze far more information. They also are learning and enjoying new sights. All of these things help to take a person off of automatic mode.

 

False Stories

 

In addition to missing opportunities, quick determinations about information can lead to assumptions about information that are incorrect. This occurs when people hear some information and assume something based on stereotypes, biases, information they have read in the past, or even their own past experiences.

 

The problem is that these connections are misleading and result in people believing things that are simple not true. This then feeds on itself because people have an instinct reaction to defend what they believe to be true. Therefore, there is an urge to fight anyone who challenges their interpretation of this information. This ingrains the information into their mind as true even though it is false.

 

This makes it extremely difficult for a person to change their point of view about an event or situation. They have already created a story about the information by connecting the new information to other information and beliefs they already have. In addition, the person may have even defended their version of the story further increasing their investment in their story.

 

When the person receives new information that is contrary to the story that they have created, they tend to dismiss that information because it does not support what they believe to be true. At this point, it can be nearly impossible to change a person’s mind. The new information, no matter how strong and how well supported, just doesn’t fit into the story. Thus, it is dismissed.

 

And, this is the reason why two people can hear the exact same information, but come away with two completely different stories!

 

Slow Down

 

Next time you find yourself defending your version of a story, take a moment, slow down, and breath deeply. Then, ask yourself, “What do I really know about this situation?” Start from the beginning and consider every piece of data like you might if you are visiting a different country. Ask yourself where the road may lead and check for information about navigating the situation.

 

In the end, you may still believe the original version of the story. But, then again, you may not!

 

 

 

 

In our previous blog post Connecting the Dots, we talked about how people are constantly connecting information and creating new understanding. Despite doing this people often rely on habit or minimal information in making decisions.

 

For instance, when a person is in the habit of buying a certain product, they likely don’t give the choice a second thought. The person just grabs the product from the shelf as they hurry through the store. Experience and the pathways ingrained in the person’s brain often results in the person ignoring other similar products.

 

In cases where a person hasn’t created a habit of purchasing a specific item, they may compare prices or check packaging details before selecting an item. They are consciously making a decision about the product. However, they are only considering the limited information that is in front of them.

 

When it comes to large purchases, however, people are more likely to do more extensive research. Before a person buys a vehicle, they may talk to friends and family to find out their experience. The person may also check Consumer Report or other guides.  They may review the  cost to purchase and the expected maintenance cost. The person attempts to do due diligence due to the amount of money involved.  They want to ensure that they make an informed decision.

 

When a person attempts to take a wide variety of factors into account over the lifetime of the product, they are trying to define the total cost of ownership for the item. For example, the vehicle with the cheapest purchase price may not cost the least amount of money in the long-term.

 

In addition, many costs and benefits of  buying decisions are not financial in nature. For instance, a buyer may see value in selecting one vehicle over another for the purpose of portraying a certain image.

 

Hidden or unconsciously ignored costs also come into play. A hidden cost arises when a person doesn’t realize that a shirt that they they are purchasing was made in a factory where people are mistreated. By purchasing the shirt, which may be beautiful and cost effective to purchase, the person inadvertently supports this factory. Thus, the cost is that they unknowingly support something they may strongly oppose.

 

On the surface, the decision on many things may appear to be obvious. It may seem to provide the benefits the person wants for themselves and the world. Yet, if they knew all the underlying information, they might make a different decision.

 

In other cases, the person may support the idea because it sounds like it aligns with their goals even though there is known evidence to the contrary. Most people will deny that they ever do that, but the reality is that all people do that. People pick and choose the experts and reports that they believe based on what they want to be true. The filtering of facts is driven by a person’s existing beliefs and experiences.

 

Therefore, most decisions, no matter how small aren’t what they really seem on the surface. The decisions are connected to other people and actions around the world. Therefore, even when a person tries to look at the total cost and benefit of a decision,  they rarely consider all the facts.

 

Thus, even with the most careful consideration and the best of intentions, people often make flawed decisions. This is why it is important to continually reassess decisions. If a person has already driven the car off the lot, taking it back and trading for a different model may not be practical. The person may have to wait until they are ready to sell the car to make a change. However, it can be applied immediately in other areas of life.

 

If a person learns new information that contradicts their beliefs or views on specific aspects of a relationship, political ideology, religion, or work, they can often make changes immediately. The key is to be willing to look beyond the surface.  A person has to be willing to question even their own beliefs. As long as a person stays on autopilot and looks only at the very surface, they will never understand the actual impact of their decisions.

 

The best thing a person can do is to challenge their own analysis. By doing so, they may discover hidden assumptions based on outdated or incorrect connections that they have built over the years.   In awakening to their subjective thought process, they will hopefully become more open to other perspectives on the world and become more understanding of others. This understanding is key to making better decisions for oneself and the world!

 

 

 

 

When I was young, I enjoyed “Connect the Dots” pictures. When you connected the dots, which had a number or letter next to them, in correct numerical or alphabetical order, an image would appear.  You could then color the image.  “Connect the Dots” images continue to be used  today as a learning tool. 

 

“Connect the Dots” for young children generally are simple with part of the image already drawn. Having a portion of the image visible assists the child in seeing the connections that they needed to make. In contrast, “Connect the Dots” for older children are sometimes quite abstract. In this case,  the picture only comes into focus as the dots are connected.

 

I am not sure who originally created “Connect the Dot” pictures. However, it appears the originator created them as a game to make learning fun. Yet, they are more representative of how humans think than the creator probably realized.

 

Human beings are constantly connecting the dots. One of the earliest connections that children likely make is that if they cry, someone will feed them or change their diaper. As children grow and develop more advanced thinking, the connections they create become more complex.  By the time people reach adulthood, connecting the dots is so ingrained in their brains that they do it thousands, if not millions, of times per day.

 

An individual’s truths, beliefs, and perspectives develop over time through a series of connections and observations.   In turn, all of these factors combine and recombine to create new connections, conclusions, and perspectives.

 

Conclusions and generalizations occur when connections are made  a path of connections is followed repeatedly.  When a connection occurs enough times, it becomes  an unconscious automatic connection or path. On one hand, this is a great benefit.  Without automatic connections,  humans would be continually relearning information and reassessing situations. The ability to build upon prior connections and paths allows learning and achievement that would otherwise be impossible. On the other hand, it is these very connections and pathways that can lead to gross generalizations and invalid conclusions.

 

Unconscious connections and pathways are like deep ruts that were created when the wagon trains went over the Oregon Trail.  Once a person’s thinking or a wagon’s wheels are in a rut, it is nearly impossible to adjust course.  Information may only be a few steps away, but still be completely unattainable.  It might as well be on the other side of the mountain because there is no way to venture over to it to check it out.

 

Reinforced pathways is the primary  reason that people tend to become stuck in their ways as they age. Unless a person is continually looking at information from different perspectives, they will have difficulty trying a new path because the old paths are too strong. This is why it is so very important for people of all ages to continually learn new things and to challenge their own thinking.

 

A good indicator that it is time for a person to infuse themselves with new ideas is when they  find themselves saying, “But, that’s the way it has always been done.”  Likewise, it is time for a person to consider if the other  has a point if they automatically reject any idea that doesn’t align with their beliefs, thoughts, or perspectives.

 

It is so important that people of all ages continually infuse new ideas into their thinking.  Those ideas challenge previous ideas, beliefs, and perspectives, allowing people to make new creations by connecting the dots differently. The challenge is to keep changing the picture!