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Power of being specific

One of the most important lesson I learned during my recent trip to Burma came from an unknown old man-Being specific always pays‘, and I mean it in literal sense as well.

Burma is still a place somewhat stuck back in time. People have mobile phones but it is a relatively recent phenomena, and thus not many have it. I was waiting for arrival of my Burmese friend at a local ice-cream parlor. It was about 3:15 PM by my watch. For me the wait was not very pleasant, partially because the parlor had some funny smell, and partially because I had nothing to do.

Mi Mi lay ice cream

Mi Mi Lay Ice-Cream Parlor, Yangon, Burma

It was then that an aged man came by to spice up my dull afternoon and making that moment an ‘Aha Moment’. He spoke in Hindi-“Will you give me 100 Kyat*?“–yes Burma was once part of British India and many PIOs can speak hindi. My prompt reply-“What you need it for?“. Words from this 70+ yrs old man-“I’ll have an ice-cream“. In a flash ‘yes‘ came from my mouth and within seconds a 100 Kyat note migrated from my wallet to his slightly torn shirt pocket.

Looking back if I analyze my thoughts, my reaction was mainly based on the specificity of his request. 100 Kyat was not a big amount for me to loose, but may be a significant gain for him. If he would have asked for money without specifying the amount–OK may be reason as well–I may not have encouraged him.

Lesson Learned: Whenever you approach someone, say a potential investor, a client, an adviser, or that beautiful eyed girl who passed by, always be specific in your opening words on what and why.

*Kyat is Burmese currency and 100 kyat is about 10 US cents. 


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