Greetings from Moscow, Russia again!
As most of you know I teach relationship-building techniques, the art of small talk and the secrets of winning first impressions. These interpersonal communication skills are vital in life. I also teach networking skills, as these soft-skills are imperative in building business and commerce relationships. How many successful sales people do you know who are extremely introverted and find it hard to strike up a conversation? Not many I would bet. There are obvious reasons for that.
Here in Russia as I had mentioned in my last newsletter I am facing a big language communication barrier (although my reading of the Russian words has noticeably improved, I am happy to report today…) and so I rely on other communication techniques. They are worldwide, human techniques. But a few days ago I was looking for a new headset and microphone in a local mall and I saw an Indian man running a computer shop. He spoke with a strong Russian accent (so I was told) and it was obvious to me that he was an immigrant or migrant worker here. I immediately felt like I was back in Toronto and started to speak English to him. We smiled and chatted and he sold me a new headset which works very well. I am ‘Skyping’ my friends and family constantly, as you may appreciate.
Today after a great day of site-seeing (for those who know Moscow I visited Old and New Arbat, Hard Rock Café, and Victory Park) I decided to add a webcam to my long-distance conversations and returned to the same mall. I purposely sought out the same shop and yes, the same Indian man was working. We smiled again and chatted briefly. I told him this time I was in need of a webcam that can ‘skype’ and he recommended one immediately. I asked how much and the answer was 1000.00 Russian rubles (exchange rate is 1 dollar to 24 Russian rubles, so do the math if you wish) and then I asked if there was a cheaper option that could still skype. He smiled and played with his computer for a minute and then said to me that he could sell it for 800. DEAL. Done.
Some of you reading this story may not be too surprised by a seemingly independent shop keeper giving a bit of a discount, but I was told by my Russian guide that discounts at malls and proper businesses are quite impossible. She was surprised by my discount. I explained to her that I felt that he liked me for these reasons: he thought I was a nice guy, I smile which is almost rare for Russian men in that situation, he was happy to see me as a repeat customer, he did not want me going elsewhere, and finally, I think he could appreciate me as a foreigner in Russia – the same as him.
Most of us at some point travel, and we should not think that our actions do not matter to the local people. Carry yourself as you would at home and continue to be in the constant habit of initiating great people-skills. You never know when they will help you!