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Winter Fun

Work: Pink says “We’re all in sales now” + Discussion Map

Discussion Map

I’ve been immersing myself in business books lately for work I’m doing with of a client of mine. One book that I really enjoyed is Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell is Human.

As a writer/editor, I haven’t read many books about sales and marketing but that will probably change now that I’ve come across Pink’s central message: “Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”

Pink’s definition of sales veers away from the traditional image of a salesperson trying to persuade a customer to purchase something and focuses instead on the idea that we’re all constantly trying to move people. Pink asks “What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value (attention, effort, time, money, etc.) for something you can offer?”

I thought about my own circle of family and friends. Some work directly in sales, but many others are writers and editors, music and voice teachers, graphic designers, accountants, builders, hair stylists, and plumbers―and what struck me is how many of us work for ourselves! So even if we started our careers in jobs that didn’t require much in the way of sales, a lot of us are finding that we need to get up to speed on how to “move” people now that we’re self-employed.

Whether you work for a large company or for yourself, Pink gets into specific strategies on how to move people, effective ways to pitch your product/idea/self, how to sell if you’re an extravert or an introvert, and how to frame messages to maximize their impact.

I don’t know what this says about me and my sales-related interests, but the concept from the book that has really stuck is the discussion map. As Pink says, “Walking a mile in another’s shoes sometimes requires a map.”

Briefly, the idea is to draw a map during a meeting to reveal the group’s “social cartography.” In other words, you can see who’s doing most of the talking, who’s not talking at all, who loses focus with side conversations, even who is the target of the most comments. To make a discussion map, draw a diagram of where each person is sitting and then add an X next to the person’s name every time he or she speaks. If a comment is directed to a specific person rather than to the entire group, draw a line from the speaker to the recipient.

Most of my meetings are one-on-one with a client, but I still find the discussion map interesting! Do you have a situation where a discussion map would be a useful tool?





  1. Tim Taylor says:

    First off, tell that ‘TT’ character to wake-up. Secondly, do you really expect me to believe that any discussion map as complex as the one depicted would have no comments directed from ‘AT’ to anyone else? Really?

    © Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers

    1. Shannon says:

      Hah! I was wondering if you’d notice….

  2. Marilyn says:

    This is an interesting concept, but I’d feel pretty conspicuous doing this in a meeting. 🙂

    1. Shannon says:

      Good point. Maybe just the threat of knowing there COULD be a discussion map analysis would be enough. 🙂

  3. Jackie says:

    Oh, dear. Did TT forget deodorant that day?

    1. Shannon says:

      Actually, my experience with TT in group situations is that he hardly says anything, so when he finally does speak, everyone gets very quiet and they all lean in to listen like he’s going to say something really wise. He doesn’t usually disappoint. 😉

  4. Jackie says:

    Perhaps it is all a ruse? Maybe you should start studying that?

    I see him stepping up to the island, hands splayed out on the counter, and in his deep but gentle voice saying “I have the answer.” You all pause, everyone turns to face him with bated breath. He leans in slightly, quiets his voice to almost a whisper, and says “Instead of pepperoni, we should get ham and pineapple.” Everyone in the room rejoices – it’s brilliant! Sweet, but still has protein. He’s a genius!!

    (but really, he just saw an advertisement for it on his phone, and it looked good)

    1. Tim Taylor says:

      You looking over my shoulder?

      1. Jackie says:

        I love pineapple and ham as much as the next guy, I’m not judging.

      2. Shannon says:

        Who was the guy in the commercials? When so-and-so talks, everyone listens?

      3. Tim Taylor says:

        “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen”

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