RAB Insights

RAB Research Archive

That’s Not What I Meant…

Over the past several weeks we’ve devoted some sales tips to the importance of communication. Communication is a loop - message sent AND message received. We’ve talked about sub-modalities of communication styles and provided a chart for identifying the communication style of the people you work with in your company and as clients.

The takeaway is that communication is critical to what we do. It’s always been an irony that is hard for me to figure out. We are in the communications business, yet we seem to have a great deal of trouble communicating effectively.

No matter how careful, no matter how much learning you do, you are going to have missteps in your ability to communicate. You’ll have a conversation either with your spouse, partner, friend, work colleague, or client where they will tell you what you said, and you will say: “That’s not what I meant.” This does not mean you are a bad communicator; it simply means the message you sent was not received in the way you intended it.

The larger issue is that sometimes that disconnect can lead to divorce, ending of business relationships, and at the very least a strain on the relationship.

Author and thinker Seth Godin, recommends this way of handling a communication misstep:

Disagreements among people who mean well usually begin with that emotion. You meant to say something or agree to something, but the “other side” didn’t hear it that way.

That’s enough for a customer to walk away forever. That’s enough for a lawsuit. Because denying the experience of the other person doesn’t open the door for re-connection.

Forward motion is possible if we can extend the sentence to, “That’s not what I meant, but that must be what you heard; how do we fix this? Will you help me make things right again?”

If we can agree on intent, it’s a lot easier to figure out how to move forward.

Intent can be more important than the message. You intend to be a good communicator, and you intend to communicate effectively, but you only control the sending. The receiver controls what they hear. So, if you have a communication gap the key is to share your intent and ask questions to understand what they heard.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB