Have you ever wondered why two people who witness the same car accident provide two different accounts to the authorities? Or why one person reacts positively to your product pitch yet another thinks you are completely off the mark?
The answer lies in how each of us views the world. We all have our own unique set of values, beliefs and experiences that shape how we interpret situations. These three factors shape our personal perspective. The challenge is that most people tend to communicate via their personal perspective and not the perspective of the person who they are speaking with. The result is that the listener never fully understands what the speaker is trying to communicate, and the situation becomes a missed understanding and a missed opportunity. Conflict may arise and challenges present themselves as the speaker is wondering, “Why don’t they get it?”
One way you can bridge this gap is by applying the “Platinum Rule.” Treat others as they want to be treated. Simply defined: each person has their own habits and their own way of communicating their thoughts and ideas to the world from their perspective.
How do we accomplish the “Platinum Rule”? By listening and understanding what is important to the person we are speaking to and communicating to them in their preferred communication style. By engaging the person in conversation from their perspective and by asking what is important to them, we start to understand their personal preferences.
Relationships are built on trust, transparency and integrity. If communication is a key to achieving results and ensuring that the customer’s needs are met, how do we ensure this happens? By asking two questions:
1. “What is important to you about ________?”
2. “How do you know if __________?”
For example, suppose you are selling someone a mattress. Rather then lead the conversation by talking about price savings, financial options or other incentives, ask, “What is most important to you about a new mattress?” Then quietly listen. They may say “my health,” “price” or “firmness.” Their answer is an indication of their personal perspective.
Let’s say their health is most important. Your next question is, “How do you know if you getting healthy benefits from your mattress?” Listen quietly as you are now discovering what is important to this person from their perspective. From these answers, you can lead the discussion on the health benefits of the mattress as your main selling points. As these are important benefits to the customer your communication should reflect this.
Our natural tendencies may be to focus on what is important to us, but if we want to communicate effectively, build trust and achieve results we need to understand and focus on what the person we are communicating with believes is important. Think about what your partner’s/client’s perspective is and shape your communication in order for them to hear you. It will strengthen your relationship and each of you will achieve the results you want.
–Sandra Herriot is the founder and president of Riot Productions Inc. She specializes in helping organizations develop and grow employee engagement, innovation and productivity.