Volume 44 Number 9
Bottom Line: Is Your Communication Clearly Misunderstood?
After I spoke at a convention in Hawaii, I joined a lunch table where an attendee said, “I already knew many of the ideas you presented, I just hadn’t thought of them yet.” His face became an instant magnet for everyone that heard his remark. Everyone had the look of “Did I just hear what I think I heard?” The real art of communication isn’t only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at a tempting moment.
Communication is an art that must be mastered for an individual to become very successful. I believe the four biggest areas for communication improvement are listening, clarity, length and style. Let’s start with clarity. Regarding a claim about over-the-counter cold remedies, a humorist once said, “Proper treatment will cure a cold in seven days but, left to itself, a cold would hang on for a week.” Uh, OK.
Clearing the error
Smart salespeople understand what real selling is -- 90 percent listening and taking great notes and only 10 percent talking. In addition, listen intently to every word as it could change the meaning of the whole sentence. Clarity is a two-way street. Salespeople that don’t come close to the 90/10 ratio don’t come close to their sales quotas either. Many of them don’t just miss a word or two from the client; they miss complete sentences. This often happens when they’re thinking of what they’re going to say next while the client is providing important information. I’m sorry, guys, but this is usually a male phenomena.
Here’s one memo a president sent to the vice president: “Tomorrow at 9:00, Haley’s Comet will be visible, an event which occurs only once every 75 years. Have all employees assemble in the parking lot and I will explain this rare phenomenon to them. In case of rain, we will not be able to see anything, so let’s assemble in the cafeteria and I will show them films on it.”
The vice-president sent it to the managers, and one of them composed his own memo to ensure his people were well informed.
“By executive order of the President, tomorrow at 9:00, the phenomenal Haley’s Comet will appear in the cafeteria. In case of rain in the parking lot, the President will give an order, which is something that takes place only once every 75 years.”
The message here -- When you must issue written correspondence, have someone read it before it’s sent. Does it make sense, and does it read well?
Scoring style points
Non-verbal communication includes appearance, posture, facial expressions and note taking. Plus, humor counts. In summary, only 8 percent of the clients’ reception to your presentation will be formed by the data, and 92 percent by style. John Kennedy had style as did Martin Luther King; Richard Nixon didn’t. Poor sales performers don’t either. If you don’t score a 10 with style, get a coach to help you. It’s an investment that pays big dividends down the road.
Brief and to the point
Remember, time is money. In addition, when using visuals, people are 43 percent more likely to be persuaded. Visuals also help their retention, which is shown in the percentages in Table 1.
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