The Single Most Important Lesson In Communication

Source: Stencil

Finally, I finished my masterpiece presentation. At least, I thought it was a masterpiece. Would my audience get it? Will they see my vision?

I made it through the first three slides. Their feedback made gave me hope.

This is working.

Q&A time arrives. The first question comes in.

“Can you add a slide that addresses client budgetary constraints?”

Huh. I covered that on slide four.

I explained this to the person who asked the question. After hearing my explanation he understood.

“Okay. Now I get it,” he responded.

All is okay, right? Not really. It bruised my ego a bit but it reminded me of a critical lesson.

The Number One Rule Of Communication

In the late 90’s, I worked in sales. One of my first sales call failed in every meaningful measure. But it yielded the most important communication lesson I’ve learned to date.

I came back from the call and told my manager what happened.

“He just didn’t get it. I explained the benefits and he couldn’t understand. He must be dumb or something.”

“You blew it. You failed, “ he responded. “Here’s a lesson I want you to take with you wherever you go from here.”

It’s ALWAYS the communicator’s responsibility to make sure the recipient understands. It is NEVER the responsibility of the prospect to understand you.

Years later, a copywriting mentor taught me a similar lesson.

Your reader should understand the meaning in an instant. “Zero thinking required.” he would say.

Put Aside Your Ego

There’s a common reaction when the receiver of your message doesn’t get it. You blame the receiver for not understanding.

Deflecting the blame makes it easier on our ego.

“He just doesn’t get it. Nothing I can do about it.”

Instead, challenge yourself.

How can you simplify the message?

What can you add to it for improved clarity?

What can you subtract from it to improve clarity?

Can you explain it using an analogy or metaphor familiar to their experience?

Can you tell a story that explains it?

Put aside your ego. Don’t blame your prospect for not getting it. Accept the rule. It is your responsibility to make sure she understands you.

Before You Go…

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