Clear Up Blurry Communication

One of the top brewing companies in America is a consulting client of mine. However, during a seminar for a brewery management team, we were jolted by a "communication wake-up call." We discovered that even though co-workers speak the same words, they don't attach the same meanings. Here's what happened. I asked people to write a list of simple words, such as often, sometimes, never, and usually. Then I asked them to put a percentage value next to each. For example, if I say, "He is often late for meetings," what does often mean? 10% of the time? 50%? 75%? Etc.

The range of answers was amazing. Often went from 5 to 97%. Sometimes was 20 to 80%. Even never was 0 to 100%, with a fourth of the people saying it was somewhere in-between! We were amazed because we assumed everyone in the room put about the same meaning on those simple, everyday words. After all, this was the management team and they worked closely together. I've lead this exercise with over 200 groups working in offices, factories, hospitals, education, sales situations, even government. Incredibly, the results are wide-ranging, even among well-educated people who communicate regularly with each other.

What does this mean to you? It's helpful to keep this communication phenomenon in mind when you speak with customers, make presentations, compose e-mails, memos, reports, instructions, or ask for assistance. Make your communication clearer by using numbers in place of words, illustrating with specific examples, and asking clarifying questions. Define critical terms and spell out expectations. It's smart to recognize that we may speak the same words but not say the same things.

Doug Smart is the coauthor of "Sell Smarter." He is a sales consultant, professional speaker, and host of the daily motivational radio show, "Smarter by the Minute." For more information, email [email protected]. Copyright 2005 by Doug Smart

In The News:

The Gun Sales of June  The Wall Street Journal

Why Are We All So Afraid?

What can strike terror into the heart of even the... Read More

101 Ways to Improve Your Direct Mail Response

1. Mail to your customers more often. If you are... Read More

How to Give Your Customers a Choice Between You and the Competition and Have Them Choose You

Instead of giving your customers or potential customers a choice... Read More

Hate Follow-Up Phone Calls To Hot Prospects Who Won?t Call You Back? Stop Calling!

We all learned in Sales 101 we must follow up... Read More

How To Make An Extra $100,000.00 Each Year

HOW TO MAKE AN EXTRA $100,000.00 EACH YEAR BY ADDING... Read More

Increasing Short and Long Term Profits

"I was at your site for all of two minutes... Read More

How to ASK for Business -- WITHOUT appearing Pushy --

GIVING Vs "SELLING"Never lose sight of the importance of providing... Read More

Model Dell: The Art of the Affiliate Coupon

Along with having an innovative supply chain, there's another reason... Read More

3 Ways To Sell and Have Fun Doing It

There are many ways to sell and have fun doing... Read More

Leveraging Yourself Up To Executives When Selling

The fastest way to get a decision made is to... Read More

The History of Sales: Dale Carnegie is Still with Us

I've recently been hearing sales companies talk about how they... Read More

How to Blow Rapport Really Fast

Do you have 5, 10, or 20 years of sales... Read More

The Allure of Antique Store Fixtures

They say if you wait long enough, a style you... Read More

The Benefits of Display Mannequins

Mannequins are primarily used in stores to display clothing. A... Read More

The Risk of Being A Yes-Man

Sales is all about negotiating. You are negotiating from the... Read More

Expert Qualities in Sales

If you went to see your doctor, and he mentioned... Read More

Ask for the Business

Many times in the process of making a sales presentation... Read More

Schedule Telemarketing Time For More Success

Telephone canvassing, or cold calling, is the practice of sitting... Read More

Are You Scaring Your Customers Away?

"Hello, is (pause) puh-TREE-shuh home?"So started my weekend lesson in... Read More

Can Walmart Make You Rich?

Have you ever shopped at Walmart and thought... I need... Read More

My Competitor Has a Better Product

The topic of this issue's article is a response to... Read More

How to Sell Your Products Without Competition

Selling your products at shows can be difficult when you... Read More

The Relationship Between Colour & Sales

Make no mistake that emotions are the driving force behind... Read More

Forgive All Ebay Sins!

Over the years, I have been amazed at... Read More

Selling More CDs at Gigs, Case Study: The Rogues

A few weekends back, the Brobdingnagian Bards performed at the... Read More