What’s a GAP? It’s certainly not something we usually have on our minds while creating our written communications or speaking our verbal communications.
Mariam-Webster defines it as a “break in continuity” – “an incomplete or deficient area” – “a problem caused by some disparity” and a few more!
In terms of our business communications a GAP occurs when we leave a space (or at best maintain only a weak link between what we are saying and how it is received) that enables our messaging to be interpreted at the will of our recipient. The risks are high for coming to a false conclusion … the severity to be determined by the seriously of the GAP!
It can be quite easy to have GAPS in our communications. Some of the areas you may look at in your messaging or the messaging you receive from others include:
– Assuming!! Oh how often do we do this!! We jump into a topic “assuming” the receiving mindset knows what we are talking about!! And if they don’t or just a portion of what we say is received correctly, things can go south quite quickly! The image at the top of this article says it all. A habit to get into for avoiding this type of GAP is to always begin your topic at what I refer to as “A,” yes, as in the alphabet. Go to the beginning of what ever “story” you are sharing. Make sure your recipients are on the same page with you “100%” from the very initial source of your ideas. If in a 2nd meeting with a prospect or phone call, begin with a quick recap of what happened in the precious meeting. The objective is to keep everyone on the same page.
– Talking about too many things at once. Sometimes we come with so much knowledge that we try to say too many things at once. When this happens it become difficult for a recipient to fully connect with any parts of the communication. Before a thought can be received, our communications are off in a similar but different direction, creating GAPs in our intention and purpose … mostly because of the lack of clarity that multiple thoughts create. To protect yourself from this “trap” .. stick to one thought at a time. Hold back, as hard as it can be. Keep it simple. Read back what you write before you send, listen to yourself as you speak!
–Talking too fast! Think we’ve all had the speed talker. In business that can create all sorts of bad reactions. We do this sometimes when we think we only have a limited amount of time to speak. In written communications, it can be messaging that is too short… uses lots of acronyms… touches upon the topic at hand very briefly. What we must do is know THERE IS TIME & SLOW DOWN. Clarity, understanding & connecting is more important than sliding in for a home run for which you might score an out! Going slow and maintaining attention and connectivity in the time we do have, will often get us additional time! People will make time for what they want!
– Tunnel Talk! What I mean by this is our communications are delivered A-Z one way! No asking questions along the way. No pausing. No including optional thoughts as the written and/or spoken communications are delivered. Some people refer to people speaking this way as motormouths. The same can be seen in some written communications as well. If we find outselves being this way, what can help is to think about driving our cars. As we steer our cars we are constantly moving to the right or left and back and forth going with the pulls away from our straight lines and then steering all back to the direction we want to go. It is ongoing as we drive. The same thing happens in our communications … be aware … remember to breathe …let questions be asked… present what might be questions … and keep steering as you go.
– Pay Attention To The Details! Stay alert! Be on time! Look nice! Read EACH word. Read the small print. Listen. Think beyond what we want. Focus on what our prospects and clients want! Be proactive. Do our homework!!
With the New Year upon us, it’s a great time to take stock of our business communications. Look for GAPS … are you guilty or are you good? I’m happy to take a look and provide some input. There is lots to achieve going forward past 2020. Don’t let yourself get lost in the shuffle due to GAPS!
Till the next time, be #communicationsstrong
Here’s to your communications success!
Welcome to the 4th and last article in a four part series on creating authentic messaging for authentic and strong connections to our buyers.
In this last article we continue along the buyer journey to the engage and convert stages. So far in our journey, our buyers needs have not been active, but once their seeded needs sprout, our buyers are ready to “engage” with us. They have specific objectives that are driving their needs and are happy to hear about what we have for them! This said … I stress …”have for THEM.” We must find out what they are trying to achieve from our offerings and then present each feature of our product/service as a match for achieving THEIR interests/needs/requirements, etc.
Their level of need must also be identified. Is their need JUST sprouting and they are simply looking around OR is their need an emergency in which our offerings were needed “yesterday!” (as the expression goes).
Finding out the level of need enables you to match items to your buyers needs that go beyond the product or service. The speed of delivery can be what makes the difference OR if not in emergency mode, perhaps the sharing of a free demo they could try for a week or a free introductory seminar that will be happening.
Along the same lines, it’s extremely important to know that the reason people buy from us can have nothing to do with the offering itself. Our product/service of course has to fit a need … but others suppliers can offer the same or close. Additional factors that can enable us to get the business include pricing, method of payment, our sales process, training, scheduling of training, location, parking, warranties, follow-up, loyalty programs … the list is huge. AND sometimes it’s simply US they want! We become the reason because they like to work with us …. never forget that! The point is that it is important that we bring up ALL factors that can make a difference between our buyers choosing us over the competition because we just never know what the trigger button might be!
An example I use to further understand this is “going out to eat.” Food is what is being bought but the location, price, parking, dress, quality of food, service, and maybe a favorite waiter can be the deciding factors on where we end up dining!
Converting a prospect into a client, i.e. asking for the sale is often feared! But it really is a natural process and can be easily done. One of the first things to realize is that no prospect will spend time engaging with us if they were not expecting us to ask for the sale. And you are really their hero as you are servicing their need(s). You have the solution for them .. you are the helper, the miracle worker …. you are the hero!!
A really easy process to use for asking for business is as follows…. basically you just ask them for agreement. From your engagement process, you have a list of items that they need/want. Review the list with them and every few items pause and ask them to agree that your product/service is a match. At the end simply say, “given that we have a perfect match here for what you require to make a purchase, what do we need to do to put this together?” OR, “what do we need to do to make this happen?” They will lay out the next steps … maybe financing, maybe more decision makers, maybe they pull out a contract and give you a check!
Whatever the next step is, you are now working as a team because if there is more to be done, you may have solutions or referrals for what the missing final pieces might be. Worse case you are able to comfortably stay in touch with them about the status of the sale without feeling rude or that you are being the “pushy salesperson!” If the next step is a check and you’ve got the sale …. you become a partner in the success of the use of your product/service going forward … and hopefully your new relationship will bring you new, repeat & referral business.
I hope this series has been beneficial … your questions and comments are welcomed!
Till then be #communicationsstrong
Here’s to your communications success!
Welcome to part 3 of this series of articles on creating authentic messaging for authentic and strong connections to our buyers. This article keeps us moving along the buyer journey as shown here:
It’s a must to have our buyers know we exist by attracting them to us, but to move things forward a “connection” needs to happen…. that connection being one that isn’t directly about selling … as buyers in this stage may still not have any type of active need for our solutions.
So what makes a connection? Something that turns their head, catches their eye, calls for a high five ….. something that lets them know/feel that we “get them” .. and something that will build upon the trust established in the attraction stage by adding credibility.
We can get ideas by going to the results of our products & services and identifying a “specific” that will totally resonate with specific buyers. Then we choose our target buyer and match it to a targeted specific “moment” or “completion” or “favorite” or “an ideal” or “wish I could” .. etc. etc.
Another source of ideas is to go to the emotions that come with success and happiness within the industry / lifestyle / community that we share with our buyers. What are some specific matches that will appeal to those emotions … the four core emotions being physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual.
Again, we are not trying to sell the whole package, not even a piece of it. We are just looking for a “connection” for that one specific … nothing more!!! And we are not limited to one. We can have multiple specifics for multiple targets … but each one works on its own within our entire market.
To continue with my “fishing” analogy .. making a connection is the same as putting bait on the hook. If we put one type of bait on the hook trying to attract any or all of the multiple types of fish in our waters, they will all swim by (unless for some reason they are starving!!) They all swim by because there is nothing enticing enough to their tastes to bother biting.
When we target our choice of bait for a single type of fish within the multiple types in our waters, we have success! They bite! It’s like us as humans…. even if we are not hungry we find it impossible to pass up a bite of that chocolate cake, etc.
One more thought to remember … we just want them to bite, i.e. … “connect” and move the established awareness further along …building upon our initial trustworthiness and adding some credibility. Our buyers still don’t have to know what our business is even about! We are simply building relationships that will be in place when their seeded needs start to sprout and grow!
Active needs and engaging is in our next article .. and of course engaging & converting our prospects… all the while creating new, repeat and referral business.
Till then be …. #communicationsstrong
Here’s to your communications success!
This is part 2 of a 4 part series. It began with an introduction to the buyer journey and the trifecta used for our business communications. Click here to review if you missed it. Going forward, today and in the next 2 articles in the series, we’re diving deeper into using the trifecta for developing authentic messaging and content.
So let’s begin with conversations that will attract prospects to us. All we want to do is simply let them know we exist, because at this point, they have no active need for our offerings. Selling is NOT useful at this stage … we only want to enable these future buyers to be aware of us. It’s the beginning of “leading” our buyers to us so upon their needs being activated, due to the nature of the industry / business / company / lifestyle they are part of, we are already bonded with them. We are at the very beginning of the buyer journey which is also our seller journey.
Over the years I’ve used the analogy of fishing …in which we are attracting “fishes” to our “waters.” Or you might think of the car industry in which the buyers drive cars. Not all people who drive cars need a new one at a given time, BUT it is important for them to be aware of sources for a new car when the need appears and becomes active.
What type of authentic content can be created for this stage of the buyer journey? The first step is to again, wipe the slate clean of any selling of our offerings in these early stages of attracting … we are opening up relationships and building trust. Products & services will appear in conversations in due time and at the appropriate times through this process.
Going to the trifecta … buyer, business and self … authentic content that attracts comes from knowing our buyer and how well we can match our self to our buyer. To do this, we explore & identify all the pieces of their “being” … their industry, company, what seeds their needs, what is their job/position doing for their career purposes and for personal purposes, what are their values – company wise and personally, who are they? What is their lifestyle and what motivates them… makes them happy … challenges them? If applicable, their age, sex, interests, etc. Having a firm knowledge of all this as applicable gives us lots of sources for attracting new prospects authentically.
What we do with all this gathered information is create conversations that show we have knowledge and insight about the industry and/or lifestyle interests we share with our prospects. Articles, news reports, financial activity, mergers, new products, etc. Also the specific company that a prospect works for ….who else works there …. what is the culture of the specific company … what is new with them … why are they good. Maybe something about the venue where we are meeting (online & offline), maybe a zoom meeting we both attended … the organization hosting the event, and the list goes on. The news of the day can be relevant (or not .. careful with this one).
If it’s not an industry that is shared, it may be a shared lifestyle that breeds a shared interest .. such as soccer moms, etc. Maybe a shared community .. such as in the world of real estate! None of these conversations will have anything directly to do with our offerings but instead everything to do with the establishment of a matched and mutual understanding of the environment we share … the environment that seeds and creates active needs for our offerings.
Other ideas come from going beyond our prospect’s business day. Find out about their home life, their interests, outside activities. Do their kids play the same sports as our own kids. Do we both have tickets to the opera. Do we live in the same neighborhood or maybe we have worked at the same company in the past? We need to keep our eyes open for what bonds us as people with our tie to them being sharing the same industry/lifestyle/ interest. It is all about building trust, developing relationships and creating awareness that we exist!
I can remember when I first worked at Cisco. Those were the days when our 1st appointment was the relationship building stage. Cisco had an unknown product at the time and our job was to go out and simply “chat” with companies. Introduce ourselves, find out what they were up to, what challenges existed, etc. Build rapport & trust under the shared interest that we both lived in the world of voice & data communications. This is no different now with online communications. We just create it via frequent visibility with messaging and postings. The openings of relationships will pretty much always begin in this way … online and offline. We just need to know our buyer OR opportunities will go right past us online… quickly and often. The earlier we can become a part of a prospects buyer journey the more market share and eventual business we will acquire.
Give this some thought and let me know your questions. Part 3 will be all about making “connections” with these prospects. The stuff that goes beyond being aware, but makes them stop and take notice, give us a high-five, make them believe we “get them” .. gets us deeper into their heads!
Till then be #communicationsstrong
Here’s to your communications success!
Picture This! You sit down at your computer, all set to write your blog post and it hits you … you can’t think of anything to say! You could describe your business but that is what you always post. You could talk about your products, but the best advice is not to bluntly sell in one’s messaging , soooo … what is there to talk about? What should you say?
Have you experienced this? Have you been there? The truth is there are many sources to “go to” for messaging and content ideas. NOT the premade kind, nor the bought kind … but the authentic and original kind that will create connections to buyers!
One of our best sources for ideas is knowing our buyers’ journey. In today’s world of buying and selling we must connect with our buyers before they have an active need of our offerings. We must be involved early on so that we can lead our buyers to us throughout the buying & selling paths of attract, connect, engage, convert & advocate.
- What is the “world” our buyers live in that seeds the need for what we offer?
- What are specific triggers that make those seeds sprout & thus activate at some level (low to high) the needs for what we offer?
- How are our products & services matched to our buyer’s specific need(s)… feature & benefit?
- What are our terms, pricing & added-value that our buyers embrace, separating us from competition, securing the trust of our buyers, and/or maybe providing a unique benefit to our buyers.?
- What do we provide after the sale is done to receive from each buyer, new, repeat & referral business?
Lots of different types of messaging & content … with room for lots of ideas! And in addition, keep in mind what I refer to as the trifecta of content and conversation
The trifecta includes the “3” primary elements of all successful selling
- Our Business – How our offerings, services, terms & conditions, location, pricing, etc are a match for the needs of our buyers.
- Our Buyers – Their industry, company, what seeds their needs, what are they really buying both for their business purposes and for personal reasons. Who are they? If applicable, age, sex, interests, lifestyle, What are their values – company wise and personally.
- Our Self – Our knowledge of our buyer’s shared industry/company, our credibility, experience, shared interests with buyer, sensitivity to buyers, standards of service, and our values and personal interests.
After reviewing our buyer journey and our trifecta, it’s time to choose a target audience and a specific purpose for our communications. Last but hardly least, write & post!
I’ll be expanding on all the creative ideas that are available from the trifecta in the next 3 articles, but in the mean time, see what ideas you can come up with on your own. I am happy to go over them with you if you wish. Simply send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a call.. You may also be interested in a private class I offer, “How to create a week’s worth of content from one single idea!”… works like a charm!
Here’s to your communications success!
#communicationsstrong — margie
How often do you engage with others? When working? At home? Standing in a line? On an airplane? Getting a hair cut?
And what happens when you do? Do you feel a bond? Do you learn something new? Feel like you made a new friend? Receive more insight for ways to go forward with a business deal? Create a mutual respect?
Do you feel engaging has value? Does it give you more appreciation? Understanding? Comfort? Clarity? Or maybe sometimes even uncover information you are opposed to … which can have a value of its own in multiple ways.
Engaging opens many doors and closes gaps. Engaging makes quality “connections” which are a lot stronger than just a “connection.” Many people say engaging is the key to quality communications. What do you think? When done authentically and effectively, I say yes!
Can engaging be done in one action? No. It has to begin and then evolve … with that 1st step often being the most difficult. A great tip for being much more comfortable taking that 1st step is to activate your inner child and be curious! Innocently & authentically curious!! Be involved in the moment at hand, attentive & interested! But even an initial “curious” inquiry has to land on the right foot. And people also often get lost for words.
Some tips for openings include:
- Be in the moment at hand and identify what is shared in that moment the meeting you are at, the location, the organization, the cause.
- Inquire about the interests that got the person to where you both are, the bigger picture of how you both got to this immediate moment you are sharing.
- With the news of any day .. a simple how are you holding up with all that is happening? Is this news about ______affecting you? Reach out a hand, don’t tap dance, BUT be aware of sensitivities! First impressions count.
- In business sales, bring up news about the company or its industry and/or what seeds the need for what your business provides as a solution. Where do their needs come from?
- Don’t force engaging. Wait for appropriate moments.
- Don’t assume other’s feelings and don’t make it be just about you … it’s about them “with” you also sharing.
- Don’t interview, i.e. ask a series of questions. Engage as it flows.
In business, effective engaging is a must even if you are selling a candy bar. Engaging creates interest and because we all know how to speak, engaging is something we can take charge of and do our part for creating an effective inclusive business community and society.
Authentic and productive engaging melts away ALL differences of sex, color, age, nationality, etc. The shared conversation, the quality of the communications, the value of the exchanges brings inclusion to a diverse group of participants.
Engaging develops ideas, creates understanding, offers insight, brings out new perspectives, breaks down & unites differences, fosters creativity, expands horizons.
Engaging creates trust, the necessary ingredient for ALL successful communications goals. Without trust, the links within communications & relationships can and will break … anywhere at anytime.
Trust is a magical & key ingredient for bonding and strengthening communications and thus the relationships within our business & personal life that lead to inclusion within our community & society.
YES … engaging is key to creating quality communications and all the wonderful results that evolve from quality communications.
Here’s to your communications success!
One of the wonderful gifts from the Pandemic that I’ve given myself is taking two walks a day, morning & evening, in my neighborhood. Time to do my thinking, get exercise, and enjoy the quiet of the streets with no cars! On one of these morning walks this past week I became aware that I was greeting people differently that I’d see passing by me. But that was all I realized at that moment. I couldn’t tell you why or even who some of the people were .. I just realized that I responded differently.
So being the communications zealot that I am, I set out the next morning “purposefully.” I was going to pay attention and know the “what & who” behind the different greetings.
What I discovered is not earth shattering news. Basically as humans we have a natural sequence of connectivity within our communications DNA that happens on its own when we let it. I experienced a sequence of … a visual connection that led to eye contact and then facial expression/body language and overall energy/emotion… all contributing to what triggered my individual reactions & style of engagement … primarily all or pieces of a sequence of raising my arm to give a wave followed by a smile and hello or good morning.
However, what did come to my attention was all I had missed by not being purposeful with my previous communications. Sure, I had responded differently as the people approaching me gave me different stimuli from first sighting … but I may, just as well, given them no regard and proceeded with a strong wave and shout out to each one, welcomed or not welcomed, for all that I retained from the interactions. I had no memory of most of the people I had passed and as pointed out, I had no idea why I responded differently!!
When I set out purposefully to see the layers of connectivity and experience the sequence of interacting with each person, I gained so much more. I “saw” each person, I “ingested” the/experience of the engagement (slight or strong), I “remembered” each person and was aware of the strength/weakness of each connection. As someone shared with me several years ago, every interaction is an exchange of energy. This is exactly what I was experiencing.
– WEAK CONNECTIONS,, the sequence of raising the arm, smiling & hello with high energy were not matched and/or not fully shared by both parties for different reasons… BUT there was some connectivity that might be ripe for developing, 1) the elderly gentleman who I see pretty regularly who acknowledged me with a only a nod of his head but a troubled look on his face. I waved but held back on the big smile and hello. Just sent a small encouraging smile and will be sure to keep an eye out for our next encounter. I don’t remember if he always looks this way or not! 2) the runner who gave a sweet but shy hello and smile… I will look forward to adding “have a good day” if I see her again…she looked like she wanted to be friendly but wasn’t sure.
– NEW CONNECTIONS – the young woman running intensely albeit a bit spent but still going, who upon me waving with a smile & gentle hello … broke into a huge grin and hello back. It was exactly what she needed! Hope I see her again.
– PERFECT CONNECTIONS – the gal who upon eye contact did what I did … a smile and a wave with a big hello .. Ahhh. a perfect connection! ( of course, as in business, there are fewer of these!!! )
– NO CONNECTION – the runner who actually did return my wave with a half-hearted wave and absolutely no change in his facial expression. Weak beyond weak acknowledgment. I say, no connection.
– MISSED CONNECTION – Got lost in my thoughts for a bit… lost my purposefulness, and looked up to see a runner turning his head away … I “just” missed eye-contact … he never looked again. Who knows the potential?
And so on … each interaction truly was unique and made my walk that much more interesting while not removing the peace and quiet of the walk. The seeds for building a relationship of some variety were planted. Before there was nothing.
My point? There are 2 that I hope you will grasp. The 1st point is the importance of being purposeful — paying attention, observing, listening, and truly engaging with the people we see daily, in person, online, and in written online messaging. Without being purposeful, what opportunities are we missing out on? What open doors are we passing by? IF every interaction is an exchange of energy, what is the energy behind your interactions. It’s easy to get lazy and assume a no connection or even care “in a given moment” about connecting, BUT what are you missing out on? Even “a very weak connect’ might know a “yes connect” for your business. What would/could happen if you maximized each interaction available to you?
The 2nd point is how being purposeful opens up doors everywhere you go! And makes it much easier to know how to begin a conversation …. simply pay attention to what is happening, what you are both sharing in terms of space, topic of an event you are both at, etc. Look for what you have in common within that moment of meeting and build from there. If we do not take these steps many opportunities will never be known. And doors are everywhere! You don’t need to overstep, be aggressive nor go outside your comfort zone.In fact you definitely should NOT do that. Pay attention at work, of course, but also at the grocery store, in line at take-out, at a neighbor’s front lawn “social distanced” cocktail party, and yes even on the walking and running paths. .. you never know!
A true story from my running days, many years ago (writing this piece brought it to mind) is how a simple hello on my running path led me to a entirely new group of friends. I passed by a group of 5 fellows every morning and we started saying hello to each other, then how are you, then after I had been absent for a while they stopped to inquire about my absence, and that led to them inviting me to my first 10k and many 10ks after that, along with parties with their wives and girlfriends and so on. The major tip: Don’t push the progression. Be purposeful but stay within the rhythm of the development of the relationship. Was there business from this story? One of the fellows got a ton of business from me. He ran a travel agency and I was traveling back and forth to Boston from Los Angeles every 2 weeks at that time for over 6 months … so yes, business came from both parties being purposeful.
Purposefulness can be applied to all the zoom calls going on as well. Be purposeful as you see the others attending and participating on the screen … maybe something they say live or in the chat or via their visible reactions, etc will serve as a great follow-up by you. A way to reach out to open the doors they have to opportunities for you. And of course look for engagement opportunities with the presenter!! All good!
Purposefulness can be applied to our written communications for which it is more important than ever to remember that it is all about who you are writing to.. AND the more you know about them, the more you can apply authentic and sincere purposefulness. ( my next mailing will talk more about this ). In the meantime if you are engaging in writing or live .. stay alert, pay attention and stay within the layers of connectivity .. don’t mess up the flow, but work each layer authentically.
Going forward past this pandemic experience we all need to maximize the opportunities that lie within all our interactions, Purposeful communications can open doors to opportunities anywhere we go!
Here’s to your communications success ….
It’s the month of May and finally quarantines are loosening up! Not without bumps in the road, albeit, but we appear to be moving forward. Hope you have remained well through it all. There are some things i will miss. I so enjoy morning and evening walks in the middle of my neighborhood streets with absolutely no cars … just quietness with the occasional sharing of a wave to other neighbors out walking.
This morning I was listening to the birds singing to each other and thinking about their way of communicating. Got me thinking about the Indians who used “fake” bird calls to communicate back in the day. They sent exact messages to each other that connected.
Today when humans communicate there can be a lot of grey in our messaging that creates gaps in the intention of our messages. These gaps leave room for the recipients of the message to interpret our intention from their perspective, i.e. in their own way! There is not a clean connection, or as they say in the tech industry, there is a disconnect at some level of the transmission.
Over the last 7 weeks, have you experienced any grey or gaps in your communications? Two huge changes in all our lives invite these communication gaps to occur .. `1) remote communications via zoom and other online platforms 2) home 24/7 with the same people, love them or not! Both provide so much room for assuming and not so much room for confirming due to a variety of reasons. It is so easy for disconnects to take place at all levels. Many people predict a continuation of both these scenarios as we go into our “new normal” and even beyond that point. The gaps have to go, and the good news is they are easy to fix with a little more attention to being exact with our communications.
Here are 5 steps for creating & delivering exact & successful communications. Hope they are useful and deliver you some results that demonstrate the difference “exactness” can make! Let me know ..
- Know Your Purpose. Begin with having a clear purpose for your communication. Know “why” you are communicating. It doesn’t matter if the purpose is to have someone purchase your offerings or if you just want a second helping of mashed potatoes. Knowing your purpose, your why, will give clarity and a target for your next steps.
- It’s Not About You. Know who you are communicating with, verbally or in writing. Your communication must be created so that it “connects” to where “their” mindset is. What is going on in their heads. It is NOT about your mindset … It is always about the mindsets of the people receiving your communications.
- Identify The Connection. Every communications is a matching of a need and a solution. In step 3 you now know your purpose and who you are communicating with. What is the “match?” What will purchasing your offerings give to your hoped for buyer? What is the “match” that will make that person with the mashed potatoes pass them on to you?
- Focus On Your Heart. Now its time to think about developing your communications based on all of the above. If you focus your mind on the first 3 steps, you might come up with nothing. It can feel very clinical. BUT if you focus mentally on your heart as you think of the first 3 steps you will discover, immediately in many cases, a story from the past, an experience, a more loving or fun idea for your communications. It works like a charm. You will love it … no pun intended.
- Clarity & Success. The last step is to structure your communication for a clear and successful delivery and receival and there is nothing more full proof for success in communications than the format of a story. We love stories, we hear stories, we remember stories and part of that is because of their structure: Apply it in your words and/or in your mind to all your communications, even very, very short ones (3 words only can do it!) Achieve clarity & success using the story format: -> an opening that sets the stage (puts you in sync with your recipient) -> something happens (matching of your need/solution from the heart) -> an ending (the desired result)
Here’s to your communications success!
Good communications are insync! It’s a term that is sometimes tossed around lightly, i.e. “insync” or “out of sync” … but it’s a term that has so much significance for successful communications. Just as the above image depicts, when our communications are insync, all flows through each layer, from beginning to end, with a successful connection. Should a disconnect occur anywhere within the flow, from beginning to end, the end result is one of confusion. The connection falls out of sync and the true meaning of the communication is not understood.
Just like our with our computers, a disconnect can happen anywhere between the beginning and the ending of each communication. Probably the worse place to have the disconnect is at the very beginning! If It happens there, the chances of a successful communication is really slim to of course, none! And, I believe we all know the results of “getting off on the wrong foot” in a conversation? That can be considered a disconnect at the very beginning.
As odd as it may seem, many conversations, written and spoken, get started off on the wrong foot. It’s just so easy to create what we want to say from our own mindset and emotions, send it off and upon its arrival at its destination, the receiver listens/reads from their own mindset, emotions, and opinions. Disconnect!!
Here are 6 tips for beginning your communications insync and on the same page:
- Set The Stage: This means that you state the topic of your communications up front, like in an announcement. Example: “Regarding last week’s proposal request.” You have set the stage. Your recipients all take their minds to last week’s proposal and are waiting for your next words!
- Get Agreement: It can be as simple as asking for agreement to be insync. Example: “Before I begin, can we confirm we are agree that _____.” Or, “Before I begin, can we confirm agreement that we need to hire new employees next week?” When getting agreement you are getting everyone “specifically” on the same page with you.
- Ask A Question: Example: “Do you know what the capital of Nebraska is? The reason I ask is ……. “ Asking a question brings people in to the topic you want to address. People are naturally curious and usually want to try to answer questions so its a way to harness their attention and continue from that point!
- Take Them To Where You Want Them To Be: Example: “Picture This! A beautiful lake with a boat at the dock waiting for you.” Using this technique you have taken their minds to where you want them to be. It’s a good technique for help with getting emotions insync as well!!!
- Tell A Story: Similar to the last technique you can begin with, “Let me tell you a story.” People of all ages, young to old, enjoy listening to stories. The story puts everyone on the same page.
- Silence: This works for “live” communications only. Pause before you begin to speak. In front of a group and 1-on-1. People eventually all quiet down and wait! Silence is very powerful. It can be annoying 1-on-1, so use it in good taste. Its success lies within your communications when you do begin to speak … but at least you have everyone’s attention up front!
The more you can focus on being in sync with the recipients of your communications right from your very first words, written or spoken, the more you will pay attention that you are remaining insync throughout the communication. Think we all know how good the feeling of “right on” is? High-five material? That’s what you are going to be feeling when all your communications are flowing insync!
Here’s to your communications success ….
Five weeks into our lives changing, how are you doing? Amongst all the changes you have experienced, hopefully you are well and have escaped any illness from the coronavirus. It’s been a crazy time and an amazing time. So impressive to me is the adaptability we all have when “push comes to shove” as the saying goes. Birthday “drive-by” parades, zoom now a household resource, virtual 5K’s and cocktails “to go” being just a few examples. And then the many ways communities, organizations, and simply friends are stepping up and gathering masks & PPE supplies to deliver to healthcare professionals along with financial donations to support local restaurants in buying food to deliver to our brave men & women in healthcare, also our fire fighters & police officers. And the flip side…the horror of having a loved one be suddenly lost to this sudden killer in our communities .. and with that seriousness, taking our new “available time” to appreciate what we do have. So much in just 5 weeks!!!
What hasn’t changed in the midst of all this change is our communications. Communicating and connecting has not been eliminated. Our words and their purpose remain available to us for use in our daily communications. We might consider it to be our GLUE for these times .. keeping it all together.
Where we have to be careful, however, is with the presentation of our communications. That part, the how and where of our communications, “is” one of our many changes being experienced and can affect the strength of our GLUE.
For example .. in our homes, we are now face-to-face 24/7 with those that previously during the day, we probably communicated with via text or a phone call. And those we communicated with face to face at work .. fellow employees, clients, vendors…are now all remote and communicated with via text, email, phone, zoom! Why does this matter? Let’s take these one at a time:
- at home .., when communications are via a device, i.e. text, phone, there is more buffer for the intention of the message… there is room for your recipients to insert their own take on your meaning, or assume what you mean. Face to face doesn’t offer that same buffer as you are right there saying it! Without the right delivery in face-to-face communications, it’s easy to miss the mark. Are you noticing more conflict at home, or maybe less? Has a child heard a “yes” vs what you really meant? Or is the family not connecting to each other as well as it may have appeared when communications had more space? OR, are you communicating better? That would be a wonderful result!
- at work… do you ever want to reach through that zoom screen and just reach out? Have that little side conversation .. get that nod of approval, a sign of acceptance of what you are delivering? Do you wonder if people are listening? Hearing you correctly? Wish you could see the body language … maybe hear a more authentic tone vs what is delivered over zoom? Are you understanding each other? Are you connecting? Is it working as well as it did in the office?
Hopefully it makes sense that if communications is to be the glue holding it all together, communications must be clear, strong, and holding! Communications must be presented with a defined purpose & intention. Families have to be strong, businesses have to bounce back and unity must be built. We don’t need to be misunderstand, get something wrong, or not be heard correctly. etc.
It is so very easy to miss our mark … for example, how many different ways might the simple word “wonderful” be taken when read or heard? Tone, volume, body language, attitude, surrounding words, emotions, emojis, etc. all can change its perceived intention. Pre-existing perceptions people have of you will also influence what is received as your intention.
Strong communications – clear communications – quality communications – effective communications require a bit of thought and care. We must speak and/or write to the minds of the recipients of our words, not come from our own minds! Messages must also be delivered so that the purpose & interactive engagement is clear from the opening word to the closing words in our communications.
We must know and believe that our communication is the GLUE for keeping us sane and “on track” during this time of transition. AND, as the GLUE, we must realize how crucial it is that our conversations move all of those engaged forward… without additional confusion! We don’t need nor have time to misunderstand, get something wrong, not be heard, or be heard the wrong way etc ..this is all destructive and additional stress right now. Create strong communications that will hold your world, and our world, together.
Here’s to your communications success,