Sure, it’s presumptuous of me to speak on behalf Mr. Shaw – but, whatever.
I’ll take that liberty, because I’m sure he’d be happy if more people realised the wisdom of his words.
Because yes, we often think we communicate, when actually we don’t.
That is: we think we communicate thing A, and then act all surprised (or even upset) when it appears that the other person heard thing B.
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you found yourself thinking ‘why are they not getting it?’, then that’s what happened.
You said one thing, but the other heard another thing.
Of course you can blame the other for being stubborn or contrary, and in some cases that may be at play – but even then, that does not exonerate you from the responsibility of communicating in a different way, and trying to find out how to get your message across.
And this applies everywhere: In business and selling; at home; with your spouse or kids; with your students or team mates or prospects:
It’s on us to find the way ‘in’, and figure out how to get the right message across.
Misunderstandings are not ‘their fault’ – they are ‘our responsibility to fix’.
And here’s the secret: saying more won’t help more.
In fact, when you think that communication has taken place but it hasn’t, the more you keep talking, the bigger the misunderstanding will become.
Put differently: if the other person doesn’t seem to get you, explaining harder will be counterproductive.
Instead, ask questions.
Because unless you learn more about the other person and what they heard and what they think of it, how are you going to accurately adjust your message?
When you find that a buyer (or friend or team mate or spouse) isn’t getting what you mean, ask yourself this:
What did they hear me say?
How does it differ from what I meant?
What should I ask them, to figure out how to adjust the message I’m trying to communicate?
That question – “What did they hear me say?” is a very useful tool in all communication – and especially in the context of selling and signing on clients.
And in fact, it’s not just a question to ask yourself:
You’ll find that when communication or the sale isn’t working, you should ask the other person.
You’ll be amazed at what might surface, and how well the conversation can go after that.