Customers make purchase decisions based upon what they see and hear and understand. Too often, what they see and hear is interpreted differently from what you intended to communicate. That is because you and the customer may have very different backgrounds, past experiences, biases, preferences, communication styles and overall frames of reverence.
Everything we hear and see is filtered by out brains based upon our past knowledge, experience and biases. So you cannot assume your customers correctly understand what you are trying to communicate.
The is Part 2 of a Two-part article. If you have not already done so, we suggest you first read Part 1.
In Part 1 we began with a presentation of the most common reasons for mis-communication between salespeople and their customers, and what you can do to prevent these miscommunications from taking place. Being heard correctly – verbally and in text – is essential to every one of your sales efforts.
Here is Part 2 of this article.
Communications Factor 4 -Learning Style
We all have a preferred way of taking in information.
When we can give people information in the way that they like to receive it, the chances of effective communication are greater.
The three primary learning styles are: visual – people that like to see things; auditory — people that like to hear the information; and kinesthetic – those that use the senses of touch, taste and feel.
When you adapt your style to the other person’s or use multiple modalities when speaking to a group, the message you’re sending is more accurately received.
Communications Factor 5 – Proximity
The closer we are to someone physically and psychologically, less confusion occurs.
Physical proximity relates primarily with face-to-face communication. When you’re physically closer, you can see more and better. For example, if you are next to someone, he or she could see that your foot is tapping, which could indicate your impatience. There is less chance for misinterpretation or confusion over the message sent when all parties are physically closer to one another.
Psychologically, when you’re on the same wavelength as the other person, there is less room for confusion. When you know someone for a while, you truly get to understand their nuances, and can better understand what they’re saying and how your message is being received.
Communications Factor 6 – Behavioral Styles
Many behavioral styles studies have shown that people have primary and secondary ways of behaving.
BRODY Professional Development uses the DISC assessment tool during its “Understanding Behavioral Styles” program. DISC, an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness, relates to concepts developed by John Geier, from the 1928 work of psychologist.
William Moulton Marston.
So, if someone’s primary behavioral mode is a “high D,” which is a dominant driver, they like to receive information by giving them the bottom line – straight talk. The minute you start doing a long analysis or speaking in a tentative manner, these types of people will grow impatient, and hence, not necessarily listen to the entire message.
An “I” is a person who is a “people person” and likes to talk. He or she is fun loving, and doesn’t necessarily want — or need to — get right to the bottom line.
Those identified as “S” are steady and risk averse, and are a little slower in pace.
“C” are those critical thinkers, analytical people who need – and like – a lot of detail.
The goal, of course, is to present your information while understanding the person’s style – even though it may be different than yours.
Communications Factor 7 – Position or Role
We tend to listen better to more senior people, those who have power or rank. Right or wrong, we often give these people more credibility.
So, for example, in many organizations, if an administrative assistant comes up with an idea to change a business process, it could be discounted as, “What does she know she’s only an admin?”
When, in fact, from her position, she may be the best qualified person to communicate this idea, because she sees the whole picture.
Never discount people based on their roles; or, at least be aware of your own preconceptions of position or rank when communicating.
Communications Factor 8 – The Three Motivators
According to the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, who many perceive to be the father of public speaking, rhetoric is “the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion.”
The official definition of the noun rhetoric is “1: the art of speaking or writing effectively: as a: the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times b: the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.”
Aristotle described three main forms of rhetoric: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. These communication motivators can be translated into logic, emotion and credibility.
It’s critical that we understand our own hot buttons, so we can determine our reactions to the message being sent. When sending messages, we also need to keep in mind how others respond.
For example, the more analytical the receiver is, the more logos you should use. Never underestimate the power of emotion.
When people hit these emotional buttons, we may shut down, or not listen to the rest of the message.
Of course, we are biased by the credibility (ethos) of the person giving the information, which may be based on position, rank, or past relationship.
Five More Ways You Can Improve Your Communication
- Take 100% Responsibility. If everyone did this, the message sent would always be the one that’s received. Be aware of your own preconceptions and tendencies to evaluate and judge without having all of the information.
- Follow “The Platinum Rule.” That is: Treat others the way they want to be treated,
Give the information to them in the way they want to get it — not what is most convenient for you.
- Clarify and Confirm. Never make assumptions that anyone understands the message.
Effective communications is an iterative process – it’s back and forth until the message sent is the one that’s received. Doing this might take more time up front, but, ultimately, cause less confusion.
- Listen to What Isn’t Being Said — i.e. with your “third ear.” Often, listening to the intonation and the body language will tell you more than the actual words or replies you receive. The goal, of course, is to understand what people are feeling — not just what they’re saying.
- Listen Even Harder. Take notes. Pretend that you will be going back with the message to tell others.
Effective communication is tricky. There’s no question a lot is involved, but it’s something that’s highly valued and can improve.
So, in these highly volatile economic times, good communication truly can make a difference.