Imagine a company making a business-critical presentation, when their projector blows up.
What would you think if you were one of the presenting team? What if you were one of the audience who had had enough of watching tedious presentations? What if you were the person who’d supplied the projector? And what, while everyone was distracted, if you were an assassin?
As the Chinese Proverb says, “Life is a search for the truth; and there is no truth”. So, ‘facts’ depend on your perspective of them. This could well be very different to other people’s.
This means that, when you communicate, you can pretty much guarantee that the other person(s) will have a different view to you. This, in turn, means that using words that persuade you possibly won’t work on them.
Once you realise this, your preparation becomes:
Step 1: what do I want them to do after my communication?
Step 2: what do they need to hear, so they’ll want to do it?
Step 3: what will their concerns be, that I have to remove, so they’ll do it?
Step 4: given all this, what’s the minimum I need to say, to achieve what I want?
These four steps make your communication much more effective and – almost always – a lot shorter.
Even better, when it’s possible, ask them for guidance with steps 2-4 – “What do you think the most compelling arguments for doing this are? What are your biggest concerns? Is there anything you want me to include in my communication? Anything you don’t want to see?”
If our views differ on something as simple as a projector blowing up, a complicated message will lead to different people thinking all sorts of things.
And since your recipients are the only ones who can decide whether your communication is successful or not, you might as well think of their perspective every step of the way.
What’s your next communication today? Why will the recipient buy-in to your message? Why won’t they? What can you change, so you phrase it from their viewpoint?
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