3). Thai..ke Thyme: Matching your needs?

Trip by nightAs I mentioned in my earlier blog – our family was having a holiday in Bangkok and we were learning to adjust to the new Thai culture. You may have also gathered from my last blog that getting our needs matched to the taxi / tuk-tuk driver’s needs was not easy to do.

The following day, our last day in Bangkok my sister determined she was going to see those final sights we had not yet seen. We were leaving at 2:30pm for Phukett. I was not in the mood to have another tuk-tuk experience; I had developed an allergy to any kind of vehicle and was adamant I was going to explore the myriad of markets on foot!

Anton refused to move from the hotel saying he was reading his Kindle end.

On the taxi tally, the previous sightseeing trip had resulted in a mild win for us. We had seen one of the sights we wanted to see for the agreed price, but had used up hours longer and additionally were frazzled and soaked, not entirely fun!

We had discussed how we could have done the entire expedition better, and had a couple of laughs at the suggestions.

In any event that morning Lauren announced she had considered the playing field and was certain she had devised a win-win solution given the opposing needs and requirements:

  • the tuk-tuk driver had the vehicle and the method for getting us about which we didn’t have;
  • we had the money that they wanted and didn’t have.

Once we married these two factors and matched the needs, this would be win-win.  A voice went off in my head saying, believe it when I see it, but I said “knock yourself out sister; I am still going exploring on foot”!

Lauren approached a driver; she had a map in her hand. She had circled the sights she wanted to see and had linked them together with pointed arrows showing departure arrival sequence. She had also drawn a picture of a “gem” and stuck a huge red cross through it, similarly to all other manner of stores that we had been dragged to the past few days. Saying repeatedly no no no, NOT HERE!

She then told the tuk-tuk driver what she would pay him (showed him the bundle) which was an exorbitant fare (by tuk-tuk standards). He would get that all but only IF he took her to ALL those sites leaving now 8:30am (clock drawn) and arriving back not later than 11:30 (clock drawn) when she was leaving Bangkok by plane (picture of plane flying away).

I am paraphrasing this all; it was an amusing exchange of Eengrish and her drama training (flapping arms etc), and some really funny graphics of clocks and aeroplanes all drawn on the map.

The tuk-tuk driver heard and saw the money and I feared that he had stopped hearing anything else at that point. He developed a huge and broad smile, nodded his head in agreement and I watched in trepidation as my mom and sister got into the tuk-tuk and it shot off.

I was imagining us missing flights etc and went upstairs to Anton. He had done the same thing to organise a cab; drawn on paper a large car big enough to take us all to the airport. There were 4 stick people, 4 pieces of luggage, an aeroplane, a big clock pointing to time 11:30 leaving, and 1:00 arriving – proving pictures do paint a thousand words!

I went off on my “foot taxi expedition” (another blog).

When I got back to the hotel doors at 11:30am I went to check in on Ant and there reclining in the hotel room were my sister and mom. They looked wind swept and blown about, but were glowing with happiness. They had managed to see ALL the sights (and more) that they had wanted to see, in less than the agreed time frame. The driver was ecstatic having got an extra something from my mom all needs fully met within the agreed time frame. Lauren and my mom were laughing about just how fast a tuk-tuk could actually go and how fabulous their driver’s Eengrish was.

She had figured out how to match her needs to his needs. She had devised a plan that was very clear and spoke the same picture language. The pictures show what she wanted and didn’t want, the show of money to him was clear to indicate the “prize” if it worked to agreement. She had made a mental note what it was worth to her to see all those sites and made sure that it was very attractive to him to stick to his agreements.

He had taken them promptly to the places, had apparently pointed to places along the way speaking animatedly about the buildings etc (totally lost on them, but he was clearly having fun). At the end of that, he received the huge fare for doing that (she had worked out a price per stop and had factored in the “coupon” and more to entice him to want the deal as she needed it to happen). My mom, delighted that her volatile youngest daughter was so happy had tossed in a bonus to boot. I was somewhat amazed and got a lecture about not paying attention to her because she was the baby of the family, ooohkay!

How had this all happened? Lauren had learnt from our prior day’s bad experience (how many people actually learn from prior experiences and make changes?). When we had brain stormed what we could have done better, she made mental notes. She was determined to see those final sights and figured out a way that was a win for her and for the driver. What a person says and how we interpret and hear it are two different things, even when we are speaking the same language. She had made it clear in a way that she was sure he understood (the map with pictures), and the show of money had reinforced his focus.


1 thought on “3). Thai..ke Thyme: Matching your needs?”

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    What great lessons for all of us! First, the establishment of a mutually beneficial outcome was certainly key to success. And the visual communication with lots of body language and, I imagine, plenty of animated tone of voice, communicates far more than mere words ever could. Finally, this proves a maxim that has guided me through many tough spots both in projects and in life: “If money can solve it, it’s not a problem, it’s an expense.” Nicely done, sis!

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