The feedback I received from a client was, “I sat for two hours and never said a word, but when I finally did speak, they listened.” The man writing tried an experiment for me. He sat with a group of his friends and didn’t say a word until there was a pause in the conversation. No pauses for two hours! Not only no pauses but continual, starting to talk before the previous person had finished!
How about you? Are you listening all the way through your client’s conversation? Or, are you saying to yourself, “I know what he’s going to say so I’ll just start talking now to share my really important stuff.”
Effective communication means planning, talking, and, completing that most difficult task, listening all the way through someone else’s speech until that person has finished. In Dr. Richard Carlson’s book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and it’s all small stuff”, he gives great advice, Breathe Before You Speak.
As Dr. Carlson reminds us, we aren’t communicating if all we’re doing is speaking and mentally deciding what we’ll say when we have a chance to interrupt. Great conversations rely on two-way communication and two-way communication requires feedback. One way communication is the kind that many teachers, parents, bosses, spouses and friends do. I’ll tell you what to do, think, say, or feel. You just do it. No questioning, no chatting, and worst of all, no checking to see if you really understand what I’ve just said.
Two-way communication relies on feedback and is 100% more effective that its one-way partner. If I get feedback I know whether you understood my words and my intention. I can give feedback with my words, my vocal tone or inflection, or with my whole body. Studies tell us that 55% of our communication is purely from non-verbal body language and it goes up to 93% when we add tone and inflection.
Don’t believe me? How many of you have stopped your spouse or child in their tracks with one stern look?
Now, pause and think, how many clients have you stopped from ordering by your continual, one-way, feature dump that never gave time for honest questions or feedback? Each of us speaks and responds based on our behavioural style. When I’m working with clients I have them complete the DiSC Behavioural Assessment tool so I know how they talk and listen, and so they learn their own strengths and weaknesses.
In the 1920s Dr. Carl Jung defined the four behavioural styles on which most of today’s assessment tools are based. Dr. Jung noted that we listened differently and talk differently from our friends, co-workers and clients. To expect them to perceive everything the same way we do is wrong. So it is with your clients. By learning some basic characteristics of the four major styles, you can communicate better … and increase your sales.
Even if you aren’t familiar with behavioural styles you can increase your chance of communication success with three easy steps. First, plan your communication. Think about the person you’re going to talk with, notice I said talk with, not talk to! Think of the characteristics of the person. Is she an outgoing person or a guarded person? An outgoing person is more open to chatting and exchanging information before you get down to business. A guarded or less bubbly person is likely to want to know what you’re there to discuss at the start of the conversation.
Actually, the more open person may require some general “get to know you chatter” before they can focus on the business. Building rapport is very important to them. The more guarded person wants to know what the conversation is about before she reveals too much information.
Next, think whether the person appears to be more of a head person or a heart person. Does Joe, down the hall, show his emotions or is he very thoughtful. If you can determine which fits Joe, you can use the correct language during your conversation. Too many times we head off to talk to Joe and our mouth starts flapping long before our brain is fully engaged. A little planning can make the conversation more appropriate, concise and fruitful.
How you talk to the individual will depend on how you feel the person needs to hear the information. Remember, you’re talking to get someone to work with you, buy from you, or do a task for you. It is all about the person, not all about you!
The completing the conversation is all about follow-up. Your success rate in any relationship will skyrocket if you learn the little-practiced art of follow-up. Before you finish you conversation determine who is doing by when and follow-up with a note or e-mail to confirm. Then take the all important step, actually do what you said you’d do. Actually, go beyond what you said you’d do and your success rate will soar.
Don’t tell me you don’t have time for the three-step process of planning, communicating and follow-up. You don’t have time not to do the three steps. I continually hear how busy everyone is and yet I know that if we’d all take the time for the three-steps, we’d reduce the re-do cycle at work. It’s estimated anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of what is done in many businesses everyday is re-do. Do it correctly the first time and you won’t be near as busy as you believe you are.
So, for the next 30-days, pause, slow down, listen, give your client a chance to think and process, follow-up … and watch your sales grow!