Feb 05 2014

Everything You Know Is Wrong

It must be true.  I hear it every day.  People tell me I’m wrong all the time.  I’m told it will never work. You’re too old.  That will cost too much.  No one will buy it.  It’s too soon.  It’s too late.   Give me a frickin break!

Shut Up, Stop Whining, & Get A Life

That’s the title of one my favorite books by Larry Winget.  It’s also something I’ve been saying to people a lot lately.

It’s Time For A Rant

I mean a really big one. Stay with me though.  I have a solution.  I won’t scream and then leave you wondering what to do about it.

I don’t know what’s going on but for the last week or so I have been hearing a lot of people tell me how I’m supposed to be running my business and conducting my personal life.

Bloggers are telling me the ‘correct’ way to use Twitter.  I see readers tell bloggers it’s unethical to make money online.  Magicians tell me you can’t make money with a 15 minute show.  A neighbor tells me I shouldn’t be a Duke fan because their coach is evil.  In other words, everything I know is wrong.

I May Not Always Be Right, But I’m Never Wrong

Seriously.  I get to decide what is right… for me. You get to decide what’s right… for you.  That sounds so easy.  Then why is it so hard to do?  People mean well, right?  They just want to help, right?  At least that’s what they tell you.  Sorry.  I’m just not buying that crap any more.

I wrote an article last week about controversy.  Is it good or bad for business?  I used an example about a magician who went on television and exposed the secrets behind common magic tricks.  The magic community was furious.  I offered a solution for how to handle the controversy and invited comments.  Some very angry magicians sent me email demanding I stop endorsing exposing magic secrets. They clearly did not read the article, entirely missed the point, but still thought it was OK to tell me that I was wrong and that I’m destroying the sacred art of magic.  Again, everything I know is wrong. The self proclaimed protectors of the art know exactly what is best for all magicians.

I made a decision to unfollow Twitter users that I have little in common with.  The internet marketing experts came out of nowhere to tell me what an idiot I am and how my business is doomed to failure. I’m on a roll!  Maybe these people are right.  Maybe everything I know really is wrong.

March is my favorite time of year.  I get to watch countless hours of college basketball.  I just found out I’m a terrible basketball fan because I like Duke university.  Yep, I shouldn’t like Duke because their coach secretly has ties with the referees.  The officials are being paid to help his team. I guess it’s true then.  I really don’t know shit about anything!

OK so now what?

Ask The Right People For Advice

Someone tells me a red widget will never sell, blue is the way to go.  They tell me this because they tried selling red widgets once and failed miserably.  Thank you but I’m going to ask my customers what color widget they prefer.  Turns out they like purple.  Not blue.  Good thing I listened to the right people.

Filter The Input – Take The Best, Leave The Rest

Most advice seems to come unsolicited.  People will give you advice whether you ask for it or not. Many times it’s because they feel they know what’s best for everyone. Too often I will listen to the advice.  Sometimes because I think the person talking is a guru.  Sometimes because I feel they have been-there-done-that.   Sometimes because I just can’t come up with my own solution.

A leader consults with team members to brainstorm solutions to a problem.   He then takes the information to make a decision.  In the same way, I get to decide how to move forward.  So do you.

Consider The Source

A magician on a popular magic forum said a 15 minute show is a thing of the past.  No one will buy such a show.  Really?  That happens to be the type of show I book all the time.  He obviously only speaks from his personal experience and knows nothing about what’s really happening in the market.  I would no sooner take advice from someone who has never booked a 15 minute show than I would listen to an overweight doctor trying to tell me how to lose weight.

Reduce Information Overload

How many people do you really have to listen to?  How many articles do you have to read to find a solution.  Information overload will waste your time to the point you may never get anything accomplished.  Stop listening to everyone!  Make a decision and then make it right.  If you make a mistake, fine. Move on.

Conclusion

I decided I know more than I give myself credit for. So do you.  I’m committed to being more self sufficient and not worry whether someone else thinks I’m doing it “right”.  I’m going to be more cautious about the advice I get, especially if I didn’t ask for it.  I’ll listen to just enough to learn something but ultimately decide what’s best for me or my business.  I hope you will do the same.

You may find this hard to believe but I really don’t want everyone to agree with me all the time.  If you think this rant is a bunch of crap, tell me so.  Just tell me why. Otherwise I may just ignore you.   I’m willing to learn something.  I’m opening the door for any comment you have.

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.