My wife and I had our first baby just five months ago. It’s completely changed our lives. It’s wonderful, incredible, and joyous… and at times stressful, tiring and frustrating.
And little Nate cries quite a bit and quite loudly too.
His crying lets us know that he’s unhappy, uncomfortable, or afraid, or that he wants something.
But we really don’t know which of these, needs, let alone what specifically would comfort him, would make him happy and allow him to sleep. Trust me, I’ve tried asking him many times! But he just doesn’t answer. I don’t know what he wants, and he probably doesn’t get why I’m not better at helping him. You see, we don’t speak the same language and that creates a huge breakdown in communication. Not only does it create a breakdown, but both of our needs go unmet and our wants go unrealized – a common situation that can easily affect us in our business.
As you know, there are certain expectations all of us want from our business:
•get more clients
•charge higher fees
•grow our reputation
•service our clients better
•better train, manage and leverage our staff
•create stronger partner relationships
•and build an incredible business
…just to name a few.
To achieve these expectations, there is an important skill you need to master: Effective Communication. And for me, ”Communication creates shared reality.” This is a definition I learned in college that has always guided me well.
Think about it for a moment… If I can’t communicate to you what I’m thinking, I’m in my own reality. And if you can’t communicate to me what you’re thinking, your experiences and thoughts are truly your own as well. We might be occupying common space, but without being able to communicate we are in completely different worlds. There is no basis for sharing common thought; thus, no basis for common existence.
So how does this fit with business? If you want to conduct or gain business, you need to create a shared reality. How can you market to someone and get your message through to her/him, if you don’t speak the same language? And I don’t mean literally speaking a language other than your own native tongue. I mean speaking in a way that demonstrates you understand the phrases and words your clients, prospective clients, employees, marketing partners and others use. And just as importantly, so they understand you.
For example, last week I worked with a web designer client to develop a signature talk that could be delivered to different groups in his target market. To make his presentation effective and resonate, it was important that we identified his prospects’ pain points, problems and challenges. But we needed to use their words, not his, so he could connect with them, teach them and help them learn how to promote their ideas.
For the social networking promotion piece written for a realtor client’s newsletter, and for her networking event, she was promoting on her Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, it was important that the subtleties of each word or phrase we used determined which ones we chose over another. These words needed to create a shared reality with her readers. These were words that would draw out their commons goals, entice them to attend the event and frame it so they felt they would get the most out of it.
For my chiropractor client who was working on interviewing candidates for an office manager position, we needed to evaluate his communication style, words and body language, and those of the candidates. We needed to ensure that their answers contained the skills and experiences he sought, but also to find out if the way they conducted themselves matched the way they responded to his interview questions.
As I noted earlier, communication is key to creating understanding through a shared reality. Always consider its impact. And be sure to practice doing it. Work with a professional to really hone and refine your skills for maximum effectiveness.
Like little baby Nate, who is getting better at telling us what he’s thinking with certain grunts and facial expressions, we’re still practicing and learning each other’s languages. With this practice, we know it won’t be long until we really understand each other.
The Language Lab Guest Blogger: Jason Rosado coaches small business owners to get more clients, work less hours and make a great living while fulfilling their personal mission of service. He is a prolific and sought-after speaker in the areas of sales, marketing, leadership and business development. For more advice and free resources, visit Distinctive Coaching for Small Business Success to achieve your ideal business.