Category: Communication

Feb 13 2014

I’m A Fraud, A Liar, And A Cheat!

That was the opening line of magician and mentalist David Hoy’s mind-reading show back in the early 50’s.  Why would he say something like that?  That’s a pretty bizarre thing to say to an audience of strangers!  That line was crafted to turn skeptics into followers.  He understood what it took to get people on his side, to trust him, to get them to tell all their friends about him.

“So all I have to do to get someone to like me is tell them I’m full of crap?”  Uhhh, not exactly. 🙂  Many magicians, and especially performers who apparently read the minds of their audiences, will use a disclaimer at the beginning of their show.  They want to make sure no one thinks they have super powers or real psychic abilities.  It is typically referred to as ‘suspending disbelief’.  It’s like saying “Hey, I’m going to show you some things that look like I have supernatural powers.  I assure you I don’t.  But just come along with me and pretend it’s possible for the next hour and enjoy the ride.”

There were many skeptics in David’s audience.  You’ve seen the type.  Very rigid posture, arms crossed, a look on their face that screams “yeah, show me!”  After all, how many people have you ever met that really could read your mind? (besides your significant other)  However, when they left the show, it was very likely they would tell their friends what fun they had.  It’s because he established rapport immediately and let them know he’s just like them.

What are you saying to your customers the first time you meet them?  Are you completely up front with them?  Do you allow them to give you feedback?  Do they like you when they find out who you really are?

I would love to hear how you turn your skeptics into followers!

Feb 02 2014

Do Your Customers Believe You?

I can still remember the first time I saw a magic trick.  I must have been about 5 years old.  I remember it like it happened yesterday.  My dad’s friend vanished a coin right in front of my eyes.  Impossible!  To a 5 year old, it was not a trick, it was magic… real magic!  Nothing could have felt more real.  That’s probably why I still remember today, over 4 decades later.

What I experienced that day was a moment of pure conviction.  I absolutely believed that magic was real.  I even knew the exact moment the magic happened.  The ‘magician’  wiggled his fingers over the hand holding the coin…paused… then snapped his fingers.  I knew it was at that moment that something special had happened.  I believed anything was possible.

I hope you’re not thinking yeah, yeah, yeah, you were just a kid.  Anyone can fool a kid with a silly magic trick.  I didn’t understand why that moment was so important back then, but I thought about it for many years.

One day I realized why I was affected in such a profound way.  Since that day I have seen a lot of magicians perform amazing things.  Every time I saw someone perform, I wanted to believe it was real.  I wanted to believe magicians have extraordinary abilities.

It’s the same with personal and business relationships.  When you meet someone for the first time, you want to believe they are a good person.  When you purchase something, you want to believe it will solve your problem.

As a business owner, when you sell something, your customer wants to know you will stand behind it and provide support.  They want to know they made the right decision.  It’s your job to fulfill that belief.

Magicians do this by creating a magic moment.  They do it with a simple gesture like waving a wand, wiggling their fingers, or snapping their fingers.  Does this really do anything?  No, but it creates a moment when people are convinced something just happened.  It works because in the context of the performance, the magician believes that he really has magical powers.  That belief creates conviction.

Does this mean you have to run out and buy a magic wand to create conviction for your customers?  No.  It simply means you have to believe in yourself first, before your customer will trust you.  Remember, they want to believe you can help them.  They look to you for guidance.  If you believe you have something of value, so will they.  Conviction is contagious.

The first step to getting people to believe in you is to understand What You Do Is Important.  Your work is not trivial.  It means something to your customer.  There’s an old story about two brick layers.  When asked what they do, the first says “I’m laying bricks”.  The other said, “I’m building the city’s finest monument!”  The second worker understood the importance of what he does.

Start thinking about the value you really provide.  Your belief will transfer to your customers.

What do you do to get people to believe in you?  Leave a comment below.  I would love to hear what’s working for you.

Jan 30 2014

Close Mouth, Open Ears – Someone’s Talking

You: “I would like a cheeseburger, small fries, and a small iced tea… that’s all.” 

Drive-Up Window: “Would you like cheese on your burger?”

You: “Yes, a CHEESE-burger, small fries, and a small iced tea… that’s all.”

Window: “Small, medium, or large?”

You: “One CHEESE-burger, SMALL fries, and a SMALL iced tea… that’s all.”

Window: “So that’s a cheeseburger with cheese, small fries, and small iced tea. Will that be all?”

You: “Never mind, I’m not hungry.”

Is it just me, or did that employee not hear a word I was saying?  Sheesh!  How hard can it be?  Instead of really listening, they were just hearing a voice on the other side of the intercom.  What’s really happening here?  Please tell me you don’t do this to your customers!

Effective communication happens between two people when the listener understands the speaker’s message in the same way the speaker intended it.

Listening is not waiting until someone is finished talking before you say something. If you’re the one doing the talking, people will be more willing to listen to you if you take the time to really hear them.

Here are some tips to make sure you understand what your customers are trying to tell you:

  1. Close mouth, open ears!
  2. There is a difference between just hearing the words and actually listening for the message.
  3. Hearing is a physical ability, listening is a skill.
  4. Do not evaluate or make judgements about the person speaking.
  5. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand.
  6. Do not be preoccupied.
  7. Listen with respect and validation.
  8. Don’t mentally argue.
  9. Adjust to the situation.
  10. Avoid thinking about your own personal beliefs about what is being said.
  11. Listen with a willingness to be persuaded.
  12. Stay present.
  13. Make eye contact.
  14. Repeat or restate for verification.
  15. Notice nonverbal cues, body language.
  16. Avoid interrupting.
  17. Avoid jumping to conclusions.
  18. Know when to respond.
  19. Never assume what the speaker assumes or is thinking.
  20. Let the speaker finish their sentences. Don’t do it for them.
  21. Don’t look for flaws or weak spots you can attack.
  22. Don’t pretend, actually listen.
  23. Show genuine interest.
  24. Look for intent and feelings behind the words.
  25. Use “listening” body language. Face and lean toward speaker.
  26. Do not try to form a response while listening.
  27. Prevent quick responses.
  28. Acknowledge the speaker’s feelings.
  29. Give feedback- smile, nod, frown, raise eyebrows, shrug, etc.
  30. Offer advice only if asked.
  31. Do not jump to conclusions. Hear everything.

Communication is a two-way street.  Effective listening is just one side.  Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to make your message easy to communicate so the listener understands you.

Do you have “cheeseburger” story to share?  I would love to hear it.  Let me know in the comments below!

Mar 26 2010

The Louder You Speak, The Better They Listen

Speak boldly.  Speak loudly.  Speak with authority.  Unfortunately, many people think this is the best way to deliver a message to your customers.  Ridiculous!  If you want to alienate your customers, then yes, by all means follow that formula.

Communication is supposed to be the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.  The key word in the definition is interchange.  Good communication flows back and forth between speaker and listener.   It’s a process of assigning and conveying meaning to create shared understanding.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of listening.  Let’s take a look at how you can make your message easy to communicate so the listener understands you.

  1. Understand you can’t make people listen, they must choose to listen.
  2. Know your audience.
  3. Your message must resonate with a person’s interests.
  4. Let the audience know understanding is not agreement. They don’t have to agree.
  5. Your attitude is the first thing people see.
  6. Be yourself. Be authentic and at ease.
  7. Open a conversation with things you have in common.
  8. Be attentive and courteous.
  9. Avoid confusion. Keep your ideas simple.
  10. Know the intent of your message.
  11. Confirm understanding with your audience. Ask questions.
  12. Provide a summary.
  13. Be patient with explanations.
  14. Avoid jargon. Speak their language.
  15. Focus. Avoid distractions.
  16. Keep information accurate, up-to-date, and interesting.
  17. Create a mutual understanding that pleases both parties, win/win.
  18. Set the stage. Tell your audience what to expect.
  19. Use analogies or examples to help understanding.
  20. Be prepared. Have all the necessary info at hand.
  21. Encourage input from your listeners.
  22. Focus on your audience. Pay attention to what you hear, see, and feel from them.
  23. Express your individuality appropriately within the context of your audience.
  24. Be open and confident.
  25. Be on time for scheduled communications.
  26. Have a positive attitude.
  27. Make sure your message has purpose.
  28. Know that you have control over the atmosphere you want to create.
  29. Appeal to your listener’s self-interest.
  30. Allow for and respond to questions.

Your customers look to you for guidance. They want to believe you can help them.  Be sure you reinforce that trust by communicating your message clearly.

Would you add anything to this list?  Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.