New Year New You Through Better Communication

The most desired skill CEOs look for in employees is the ability to communicate.

The most desired thing a consumer looks for from a company is that the company communicates effectively and engagingly to them.

What my wife wants most from me is great communication.

So if your boss wants great communication and your consumers want great communication and your spouse wants great communication, then improving communication is a great place to spend your time and effort this new year.

Learning to communicate effectively and efficiently requires a few keys. Number one among these is speaking to your audience where they are and not where you are. That means you speak to them based on their experience, understanding and knowledge — not yours.

Every industry has their own language. I had lunch recently with a gentleman in the IT field and the stereotype for IT professionals is well known. They speak and no one understands them except another IT professional.

Do you think your industry is different?

The same principle applies in our interpersonal communication. The machinations my mind goes through to get to a thought are amazing, but they are in my brain and are not public knowledge. I have to preface my statements to give them context when I make sudden, unannounced turns.

In my family, we have a fun way of saying that we were nowhere close to being on the same page when the person we are talking to makes a sudden unannounced change in the conversation. We call it making a 90-degree left-hand turn — at 150 miles per hour — without a turn signal.

One great way to remember your audience is to remember to ask yourself: Where is my audience in their experience, understanding and knowledge? What is important to my audience? What is the goal of my audience?

We never lose sight of our audience and consumers if we constantly do this.

Case in point: My wife and I were laying in bed the other night, she was reading and I was laying next to her. I rolled over and looked at my wife and she asked what I was doing. I told her I was looking at her and that I think she is pretty cute.

What followed was that 90-degree, 150 MPH turn with no turn signal!

She followed my expression of affection with, “You know, I have a pretty good BS meter.”

WHAT?!

FREAK ME OUT BIG TIME!

I’M NOT “BS”ING HER!

SHE IS PRETTY DANG CUTE!

I soon learned she was not responding to what I just said about her being cute. She was thinking of an interaction she had that day with a person at our child’s school, but I didn’t know that! I don’t have access to her mind and I was lost.

I had a big load of insecurity going on there until we got on the same page. Fortunately, now it’s just a fun story. But imagine if that same type of conversation happens with a customer. Yep, they’re gone.
In both business and interpersonal communications, think of your audience first and things will go better. Even when you are lying in bed thinking you and your wife are on the same sheet of music.