Autistic working in a shoe store needs advice

Page 1 of 2 [ 24 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

Dianitapilla
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 24 Apr 2009
Age: 34
Gender: Female
Posts: 147
Location: NL

25 Aug 2009, 1:34 pm

I just got this new job working at a show store, I'm on proof for a month (this is my third week).

It was funny to hear today form my boss that I need to put my self as a shoe seller/advisor on other's shoes. The way he explained it I need to be able to foreseen what tha client thinks, what are the needs of the client, and to be sure it is the right comment or question at the right moment.

Off course as aspie as I am this is not working completely fine, he says that sometime I sound like I'm trained to ask things I'm learning to ask but that what I say doesn't apply to every costumer. Also I have problem choosing the right moment, comment or question to interact with the client. (this is I suppose due to my lack of body language reading and the my inhability to put my self in the clients position - common logic?)

Off course my boss doesn't know I have asperger's (self diagnosed), but he knows I have ADHD and that my language level isn't as good as expected (dutch) but still he has given me the chance and opportunity to try it cause I'm always smiling, optimistic, and work-oholic. so I'm really up to take the best out of this job.

I find this job really useful for learning this cues, it's perfect for practising but it goes really slow, I don't wanna start feeling frustrated about my limitations at work and I need to develope an strategy or something, I could also train alone on how to put myself in other's position (wich I find really hard).

Does anyone know excercises? or ways to get along with it?
Did you happen ever to be in the same situation and solved it in a efective way?

Thanks for your advice


_________________
Dianitapilla


Willard
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 23 Mar 2008
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Posts: 5,647

25 Aug 2009, 2:55 pm

I only know I've never gotten any better at it. Having to deal with walk-in customers gives me anxiety attacks, and having a boss watching you and pressuring you to improve only makes it harder. Like if they fuss at you enough, your brain will magically change its own wiring. Sometimes I literally can't speak to a stranger who's just walked in. Last job I was at like that, ended with the boss following me out to my vehicle and screaming in the window "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST BE LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE!?"

Libraries are nice and quiet. Maybe you should try working in a library. :?



Dianitapilla
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 24 Apr 2009
Age: 34
Gender: Female
Posts: 147
Location: NL

25 Aug 2009, 3:02 pm

Thanks a lot :D but me being the kinda out-going aspie thanks to ADHD I wanna try... at least Ihave to.

I can definitely talk to complete strangers, but I cannot hold on a friendship. I no longer get anxious attacks while being with other humans in close contact (like co-workers) thanks to my previous job at a clothes store where I had to learn to deal with this. :D:D since then I've improved A LOT! and by it I mean A LOT still no functional like but everytime goes better and better. That's why I'd rather keep on trying, maybe one day I can be as functional as I could be.

I will keep your option in mind though :wink:

Thanks a lot!


_________________
Dianitapilla


duke666
Deinonychus
Deinonychus

User avatar

Joined: 8 Aug 2009
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Posts: 381
Location: San Francisco

25 Aug 2009, 3:04 pm

I can't help with specific exercises, and the closest similar situations in my own life didn't work out very well. I was the world's worst waiter <grin>.

Play to your strengths. When I shop for shoes I know what I want, but I need the salesperson to know their products. I have wide feet, am usually buying shoes for a specific purpose, etc. I don't want the clerk to be my friend. When I bought my last hiking boots, the clerk knew everything about all the boots, and was able to guide me to the only 2 boots that were appropriate. Of course fashion was not an issue.

In areas where you are weak, deconstruct them and devise rules and lists. Get advice.

You can learn a lot from experienced clerks, but probably can't do it the same way. Don't imitate them too much. Try to have your own style, based on your own strengths. Information and sincerity are valued.


_________________
"Yeah, I've always been myself, even when I was ill.
Only now I seem myself. And that's the important thing.
I have remembered how to seem."
-The Madness of King George


dupertuis
Raven
Raven

User avatar

Joined: 18 Nov 2007
Age: 69
Gender: Male
Posts: 120
Location: North

25 Aug 2009, 3:15 pm

It would help if you could develop an obsession with footwear.

If not that, research enough to become a guide for your customers. I think that was what your boss was trying to say. If you know more about shoes than your customer, you can helpfully guide them to make a wise, comfortable purchase.

If smiling does not come easily, keep your voice light, friendly and helpful. You are there to provide a service to your customer. That service is helping him/her find the right shoe.

Glad to hear your willingness to face this challenge. Best of luck to you.

dp


_________________
Formerly Bipolar


ColdBlooded
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 6 Jun 2009
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,136
Location: New Bern, North Carolina

25 Aug 2009, 4:07 pm

I think that once you get used to it you'll get better and better at it. There's nothing specific i can tell you, but when you start getting used to dealing with certain situations over and over you'll develop better ways to deal with them.

Aspie wal-mart salesperson here :) A shoestore sounds like it would be have a slower pace with customers, so that's probably good. Wal-mart has gotten be pretty frustrated at times and i wish it was slower. I'm still not very good with smiling and eye contact and all, but i explain things to people pretty well, so i think that's helped. I think that most aspies write off work as a salesperson or something similar as being too social... But if you're the sort who still likes contact with people(even though you may suck at socializing), it's a great way to interact with people in a structured way(depending on your levels of social anxiety, anyway).. I mean, think about it, you just ask people if they need any help and then you answer or help them with whatever they ask you. Your roles are very clear-cut. It's a good starting point to getting more comfortable around people. I think i've learned a lot from my job. You probably WILL make a bunch of little mistakes with social things and all when unexpected situations present themselves, but that doesn't mean you can't get over it and make up for it by being basically good at your job. If things get too hectic i just try to focus on one thing at a time, and tell everyone else that i'll get to their issue in a few minutes. Even when there's too much going on for me, i can usually find something to concentrate on and try to ignore the rest of what's going on around at the time.



dadsgotas
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

User avatar

Joined: 8 Aug 2009
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Posts: 94

25 Aug 2009, 4:07 pm

I act. Interaction with customers is a performance, using parts of scripts I've developed over years, and switching them in and out as appropriate. By the end of the process I've said the same things to practically every customer, just in a different order. The customer leaves thinking they know me, knowing nothing about me at all.



AspE
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 31 Dec 2007
Gender: Male
Posts: 4,114

25 Aug 2009, 4:37 pm

As an engineer for a major shoe company, I can tell you that, although I do not deal with customers, I deal with social interaction by knowing as much as possible about my craft. You could learn about which lasts the shoes are built on and how they compare in terms of width, girth, and fit; you could learn about the materials and methods of construction (strobel vs. board lasted), the different purposes for each kind of shoe. You get the idea, just know as much as possible.



Peko
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 Feb 2008
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,381
Location: Eastern PA, USA

25 Aug 2009, 5:35 pm

My issue with working in a shoe store would be wanting to sniff all the shoes! :lol:


_________________
Balance is needed within the universe, can be demonstrated in most/all concepts/things. Black/White, Good/Evil, etc.
All dependent upon your own perspective in your own form of existence, so trust your own gut and live the way YOU want/need to.


AardvarkGoodSwimmer
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Gender: Male
Posts: 7,219
Location: Houston, Texas

25 Aug 2009, 5:39 pm

Dianitapilla wrote:
. . . he says that sometime I sound like I'm trained to ask things I'm learning to ask but that what I say doesn't apply to every costumer. . . .


That is, you sound like an employee who has been there, say, about three weeks! So, give yourself permission to have a learning process.

Okay, my advice . . .

Turn down the internal monitor,
give yourself permission to make mistakes and straightforward ways to recover,
and be open to appreciating people in small ways.

Let's start with the middle one, permission to make mistakes. "Normal" people make social mistakes all the time. Socially skilled people have a repertoire of easy, matter-of-fact recovery skills. Let's suppose a customer says at the beginning that she's looking for shoes for out on the town, not so much for work. (This is probably too complex. Most customers want to know very straightforward things, How much are the shoes, are they made of leather? That kind of thing.) Okay, but she's looking for something a little more complex. But, in looking at other shoes and talking about other things, you just plain forget that. You lose that social thread because there are other threads going on at the same time. You bring her a pair of shoes, and you even say that they'll go nice with business attire. A further mistake, instead of continuing an actual conversation, you are recoursing to canned sales talk to fill the air. And that's still okay. The further mistake is still okay, even if she gets a little irritated and says, no, I said I wasn't so interested in office shoes. Still okay. That's just where you allow yourself from your repertoire of skills any of a number of straightforward, positive, and brief recoveries:

'That's right. For out on the town, not so much at work.'

And that's it. That's all you need to do. You keep the recovery short and thereby give it a chance to work. Nothing always works. We humans, Aspie, normal, and a hundred and one different kinds of people are all too complex. Your social skills are more like percentage baseball or percentage poker. And by giving yourself permission not to be perfect, you are also giving yourself a chance to listen. You're not so much in that mindset of all sending, no receiving.

So with the 'That's right. For out on the town . . . ' you are surprised, you are going with it, you are going with your actual emotion, and you are practicing reflective listening. As a person with Asperger's, you might have a very good verbal memory. I tend to. Use it, just don't overuse it, use it in that broad middle course. When you remember, go with it, repeat what she said at the beginning, watch her reaction, if she recognizes and appreciates, you can even slow it down naturally and come to a stop. Or not, either is fine. Either way, you are present and you are ready for the next communication exchange.

Okay, the internal monitor, most people have an internal monitor in which they briefly review something before saying it. I think most "normal" people have this, but I think theirs isn't turned up so high. As I once heard an artist in a TV interview, lower your standards! The counter-intuitive approach. Produce a lot, get out a lot by lowering your standards and getting better that way. Yes, you'll still have the internal monitor, but gently kind of coax it down, so that your default is, it's probably okay. Unless it's a glaring obvious error, it's probably okay to go ahead and say it, and then take it from there. Let the other person contribute, too. Both of you are contributing to a casual enjoyable conversation.

And about being open to appreciating others in the little things, we'll save that zen lesson for later! Or perhaps you'd care to address that yourself.

Good luck! Continue to be optimistic and continue to learn.



wigglyspider
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 23 Apr 2009
Age: 35
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,306
Location: WA, USA

25 Aug 2009, 6:26 pm

Do you watch your fellow employees? That's where I'd start. Also I learn a lot from TV, especially reality shows because it's real talking. Like maybe those fashion reality shows would be good, since they talk a lot about the function of the clothes and what the wearer is looking for, etc. Like fashion design and makeover shows. I don't know.


_________________
"You gotta keep making decisions, even if they're wrong decisions, you know. If you don't make decisions, you're stuffed."
- Joe Simpson


ViperaAspis
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Age: 52
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,080
Location: Portland, OR

25 Aug 2009, 6:44 pm

Yes! That's the right idea! Get a job where you can study behavior and develop your scripts. I learned a lot about social interaction the same way.

Unfortunately, you're going to need to be the one to figure out how you learn best and how you pick up on things. Keep at it and study hard. It's fascinating stuff. The only advice I can offer is: DON'T GIVE UP!


_________________
Who am I? This guy! http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt97863.html


2ukenkerl
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 19 Jul 2007
Age: 60
Gender: Male
Posts: 6,192

25 Aug 2009, 9:37 pm

Is dutch your NATIVE language? Maybe you could try to get better at it. Read more, and concentrate on reading and listening to dutch broadcasts. It WILL help a LOT, if I understand your problem. In the US, one thing I HATE about sales people is so many are foreign and mishear and ASSUME! It wastes my time and sometimes I don't bother trying to correct and just LEAVE! I also interview people, and I mark down a bit if they don't communicate well. Sometimes, they lost the job by the third sentence.

If you have an idea of the popular styles. how they relate, and can guess sizes, you can start things off. If they want new shoes, and take too long, etc... you can SUGGEST. BTW it is a good idea to determine a feature and offer three choices based on it. Like a cheaper and more expensive versi0n that have similar characteristics.

The KEY part is often to listen for questions, concerns, etc... and try to sway them to something that you have that fits their needs/wants. If you are on commission, and do a good job, you can make a LOT of money. Unfortunately, that works best if you are very fluent in at least understanding the language.



Rocky
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 1 May 2008
Age: 63
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,074
Location: Uhhh...Not Remulak

25 Aug 2009, 9:58 pm

I have been in retail sales for many years. I agree with all the advice so far. I would add that you might want to decide on some strategies for situations which will likely arise ahead of time. For example, how you should handle a second customer asking you something while you are helping your original customer. A few customers will get very upset if you even answer a quick question in that situation. I usually ask the original customer if they would "mind if I answer a quick question" for the other customer. This lets the interrupting customer know the situation, and allows the original one to either say yes, or sometimes they will be silent, and I know to just tell the second one that someone will be with them as soon as possible. Then the second customer would not blame you for not answering their question.

Another strategy to consider is how to get a quick "time out" when needed. If part of your job involves stocking shelves, for example, choosing when to do that would allow you to calm down after a stressful or hectic session helping customers.

I have had some jobs in retail sales which were nearly intolerable, and others which were sometimes even enjoyable. The difference is usually dependent on how you get along with the management and fellow employees. I have found that (at the risk of sounding like a snob) working in an affluent neighborhood is better. I think it is because I can relate to those I work with (customers and co-workers) since they tend to be better educated. Don't get me wrong. I have met plenty of people I can not stand who fall into these categories.


_________________
"Reality is not made of if. Reality is made of is."
-Author prefers to be anonymous.


Rocky
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 1 May 2008
Age: 63
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,074
Location: Uhhh...Not Remulak

25 Aug 2009, 10:06 pm

One strategy I have found to be very useful is to have a way to write things down quickly. That way if you get interrupted when you go to retrieve a specific product, you don't have to worry about forgetting which one it was. That will reduce some stress. I also write down (on my Palm Pilot) what tasks I have been given each day, so that I won't forget to follow through as time permits.


_________________
"Reality is not made of if. Reality is made of is."
-Author prefers to be anonymous.


Last edited by Rocky on 26 Aug 2009, 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

CerebralDreamer
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Dec 2008
Gender: Male
Posts: 516

25 Aug 2009, 10:11 pm

If you have Asperger's Syndrome, take advantage of the hyperfocus and try to obsess about shoes for a couple days. I assure you you'll have all the brands and types down within a week. That's what I would do.

I will say this reminds me a little too much of this show my brother watches, "Married with Children." It is constantly hammering against his job as a shoe salesman, so this was ironic for me.