|Management of Measurement Constructs
Notebook – 11/30/06 Pre-Consultation Image-Making
--What can be accomplished--
When someone calls an astrologer for an appointment, the person usually has special concerns about something in their experience, past, present, or future. They are not just “curious” any more; curiosity about astrology has faded, as circumspection and appreciation of astrology and what it “does” have become more known to the public, more responsibly represented.
The person calling is particularly sensitive –it is a significant moment to telephone an astrologer for an appointment. The person is perhaps strongly preoccupied with worries, with pressures to make a decision; the person is entering uncharted territory with feelings, questions, and apprehensions; the person is always vulnerable, emotionally and intellectually. The only security the person has in phoning the astrologer could be attributed to a referral or could have been established through familiarity with the astrologer’s reputation, public appearance, or writings.
The first interaction with the astrologer is extremely important. The person may have spent hours or days trying to find the accurate birth time, knowing this would be needed; then several days about deciding whether or not to call the astrologer; anticipation about the astrological process is highly charged.
What does the person want to “hear” from the astrologer when they first come together by phone or in person? The nervously distraught person will certainly want to hear kindness and understanding –even within the appointment making process, even when nothing specific about what motivated the call is covered! The businessman may listen for something else, perhaps authority and experience, in addition to courtesy. In our language, we talk about our need for others to “lend a kind ear.”
After the appointment is made, the person may then mention it to a friend or two (for reinforcement, for sharing the tension leading to the meeting). The consultation will have become an event to look forward to; there is a new energy of more specific anticipation. A friend will ask, “Tell me, what did she/he say? What did he/she sound like?”
I have thought much about this over the years and many, many thousands of consultation experiences. I feel that the astrologer must establish the following image: being specially informed, seasoned in life, and adept with conversation. We could say: informed, experienced, and articulate. THAT image is professional and secure for the caller. Those attributes build toward a profile of wisdom and effective communication.
The communication moment of making the appointment establishes the image of the astrologer so very quickly. The astrologer is already performing.
And it is not always smooth as silk. Some people phoning for an appointment are embarrassed that they are doing so, or they need desperately to establish their ego strength in the light of whatever it is that is on their mind, that may be depleting them, making them vulnerable. They sometimes cover that with know-it-all braggadocio about their knowledge of astrology, having read “a few books about it.” –I quietly counter with, “Please know that we will not be talking about astrology when we have our consultation. I’ll do my work ahead of time, of course, but we’ll be talking about you and your development. I look forward to that.” This establishes that the consultation will not be loaded with jargon, that the discussion will be centered on the individual, and that the astrologer is ready to be involved.
Callers sometimes strongly request information about “What’s actually going to happen in the consultation?” --I’ve learned to say simply, “I do a lot of preparation using your birth data, organizing the thoughts and datelines that we’ll talk about –things I think are very important about your development, throughout your whole life— and we have a very good discussion together. It’s not a performance by me. You and I work together to appreciate who you are, and we take all that into the future.”
Notice what that statement establishes: preparation work, good organization, my specialized discernment about the person’s life development, and the necessity for the discussion to be just that … a discussion … toward understanding and planning strategy.
The caller is getting a clear impression of who the astrologer is, how she or he will communicate during the consultation. Just as when meeting the astrologer in person at a lecture or at a dinner party, clues about the astrologer are flooding the prospect’s sensibility: the sound of the voice, the choice of words, one’s sense of humor, etc. On the phone, the senses reach farther for more information since nothing visual is involved to help with the image-making process.
This image-making process happens very quickly. Think how you react to the sound of another person’s voice, especially one you are going to be dealing with some degree of confidential intimacy. Think how you react to the words you hear in your introductory conversation. Think how all your intelligence and senses work to establish a value judgment of the person!
And, we must know that this image-making process works both ways: the client-to-be is making an impression on the astrologer as well. The caller is under pressure and will also want to make a fine impression. The caller knows that this impression can color the consultation to come --that’s only human.
The astrologer must listen for the person’s image as it forms during the call. Is the caller courteous, careful and thought-out with word choice, using correct grammar –a major index about education and sociometric Level; is there responsiveness to humor? Perhaps the first question the astrologer should ask is, “Yes, this is he (or she) speaking. Thank you for calling … May I ask, please, how you got my name and number?” This is important information for the astrologer’s marketing efforts, to learn what efforts are producing business contacts, and being correct with grammar immediately says so much to the caller; whether or not the caller is tuned into grammar and word choice, the caller reacts to it; the image is built.
When the astrologer takes the birth data from the caller, there is a further opportunity for the astrologer to establish image during initial interaction with the client-to-be. Naturally, these data are critically important, and the astrologer can show this: “May I have your birth data, please?” The caller will often blurt out the data very quickly, e.g., “three-eleven-forty-six.” The astrologer should reply, “Thank you, but please, let’s be sure: is it March 11 or is it November 3?”
The caller will say, March 11. The astrologer should clarify: ‘March one-one.” Yes.
Then, with the year, “19 four-six.” Stating the all-important numbers like that shows how careful the astrologer is being; a very important part of the image that should be put forward.
With the birth time, there is another opportunity: the astrologer asks about the time; and the caller says, 2:06 AM. The astrologer should say, “Thank you: that’s 2 zero-six in the morning,” and wait for corroboration.
Then, the astrologer should ask, with a touch of inquisitiveness in the voice, “How do you know?”
This opportunity for response by the applicant often clarifies the birth time importantly or reveals a problem with it, but it always stimulates further conversation, a further opportunity to build impressions of the caller within the image-creating process.
In short, the telephone exchange says so very much about the astrologer as well as about the client-to-be. I like to remind myself with every call –especially when I am very tired, perhaps harassed, perhaps in an argumentative frame of mind—“If you feel kind, you will be kind. If you think yourself correct and impressive, you will be correct and impressive. If you are consciously determined to be patient and tolerant, you will be.”
Next Update: December 31, 2006