You wish that you are always understood.
You do well when you order something from the menu, but most discussions are not transactional. They involve thoughts, emotions, experience, stereotypes.
Is it your fault that the other person does not understand?
“Don’t waste your time with explanations: people only hear what they want to hear.” — Paulo Coelho, writer
You are not responsible if the other person can’t understand you.
But, you are responsible to deliver your message in your best possible way.
To successfully deliver, your message must have meaning and a great package.
I have an academic background in physics and what really amazed me during my educational years is the feeling of authority that the scientific community emitted.
It is like the scientists, as keepers of truth, live in their fairytale castle above all others, holding the treasure of what is true and right. And when times come to communicate, it becomes like a Tower of Babel and one side becomes “ignorants unable to understand” while the other side is “over-complicating nerds”.
Meanwhile, business worlds flow at another pace. Marketing keeps evolving and companies have many persuasion tools at their disposal. Nowadays persuading customers has become both “art” (content marketing, user interfaces) and “science” (data analytics, neuromarketing).
What is more, as the movie “The Social Dilemma” shows, social media push the limits of persuasion even more and increase polarity. We are left feeling the other person as the enemy, not the real one: the polarity itself.
Take the best of both worlds.
For great content:
- You need to be proactive. To research first, to rehearse. To evaluate the truth and credibility of what you are talking about. Search for similarities, analogies, examples.
- Keep in mind the simple rule of 5Ws & 1H. What, who, when, where, why & how. Check that you provide information on every aspect.
- Why you communicate the message, what is your goal: To raise awareness, to call for action, to inform, to persuade? Is it meaningful for the other side?
- And if you go to someone about a problem, you better be ready to offer some way outs. You are proactive and you save time evaluating their proposed solution.
For example, as a product manager, I start with market analysis and customer research to understand what the customer wants and needs. Then I check my competitors so that I can distinguish which characteristic is missing of the current products. I acknowledge the risks and prepare mitigation responses. I also study use cases, frameworks and processes.
“If content is king, then context is god.” Gary Vaynerchuk, content marketing guru
Step up your context:
- There are many ways to transfer information. For face to face communication, you can learn to have a suitable body language & control of your voice — rhythm, tone, volume. For writing communication, you can learn to write in a structured format, with flow, taking out personal emotional conclusions and stating facts.
- Timing is crucial; how important and how urgent is the message for you and the recipient.
- If you make the message simple without losing meaning, you save a lot of time and energy.
- Emotional maturity and empathy help a lot: Acknowledging emotions of both parties.
- And you need to take into consideration the environment: culture, unspoken ground rules, patterns, way of work, politics.
“People are not creatures of logic but of emotion, motivated by pride and vanity.” Dale Carnegie, writer “How to win friends & influence people”
80% of the project manager’s work is communication. And stakeholder analysis is a key skill for guaranteeing success.
Content and context are not a versus situation. If you have one more over the other, failure is near. Results come in a short-term threshold.
Content without context means people must sacrifice a lot of effort to understand you. You abandon control of communication and understanding to the other party.
Context without content puts people swinging, trying to figure out what the meaning is. And at the end, you will lose credibility and break the relationship, as trust leaves the building.
Communicate better, get results; Pass the message & build rapport.
Written by Dionysis Svoronos.