Effective communication is measured by outcomes. Communication without an outcome is like traveling without a destination. Communication used in negotiating is more frequently disastrous than fruitful. Broken promises and relationships, cancelled or non-renegotiated contracts, dissatisfied customers or vendors, and even divorces and other forms of family discord are frequently the byproduct of improper or unwise communication.
An outcome is the result you want, defined in terms of the way you would like to see things happen and the way you want to feel, when you have your outcome.
If the outcome of your communication is inconsistent with what you want, review the content of your communication, as well as the behavior attendant to it.
Many years ago, I came to the conclusion that, while the performance of my organization was both profitable and increasingly productive, I was nonetheless leaving a lot of “dead bodies” with my communication style.
Encouraged by the disastrous thought that I would be constantly rebuilding my organization and sacrificing customer satisfaction, unless I found a way to change my style, I embarked on a serious study of human behavior with a major goal of improving communication and having more positive outcomes.
In the past few decades, an abundance of research has become available in fields such as neurolinguistics and effective negotiating skills. Neurolinguistics deals with the Neuro (Neuron) – nerves or nervous system/ Linguistic (Language) – and the effect of language on the central nervous system.
Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) is based on the use of words, phrases, styles of speech, vocal intonation, emphasis, gestures, repetition, pacing and other forms of communication to achieve desired results. It became apparent to me that frequently, the outcome of my communication was not the result I desired. Accordingly, I embarked on a study in this field and started to put into practice the techniques I had learned. As a consequence, our sales and marketing methods have sustained themselves and are affectionately known as “The System.”
Here is a brief synopsis of power ideas to improve communication and ultimately increase more positive outcomes:
If you can get opposing parties to define their desired outcome several different times, you may find a gold mine of leverage among the definitions. This requires utilizing Socratic methods of speaking, i.e., more listening than telling—more questions than answers.
Many people have emotional listening filters. They refuse to hear what they don’t want to hear. They may even be so busy with their own needs that they fail to hear valuable information. Thus, utilizing questions (and patiently waiting for responses) is the key to bypassing these filters.
I found that if I was not getting the response I wanted when I was speaking, I had to change the style and content of my communication, as well as my behavior, until I was able to do so. I found that I could establish some simple principles, which would aid me in achieving my lofty goals. As an example:
- Achieving my own outcome at the expense of, or even without regard for, the other party constitutes manipulation and often creates unintended consequences.
- Translating my speech into the favorite and familiar representational system of the person with whom I am interacting makes communication easier.
- Choosing my words to match the other person’s value system allows that person to find my words more meaningful. It also leads to uncovering roadblocks and hurdles to accomplishing goals.
- I cannot use my own experience and personal history to decide what change means to others.
- I will challenge the information, not the person. I want to change adversarial positioning to a cooperative interaction and, at all cost, avoid antagonism.
Becoming a better listener does not require a reduction in your speaking skills but, rather, the use of your information presented in a manner consistent with the other party’s value system.
People listen faster than they can speak. When we are in listening mode, we often tune out and daydream, figuring we know what the speaker is going to say. When we lose concentration, we miss valuable clues about the motives, needs and objections of others.
One of the most powerful breakthroughs in our studies came when we realized that improved communication required that we choose different options for our declarative statements and responses. These options consisted of rather simple language. The problem lies in implementing this simple language, since it would be replacing language with which you have become comfortable. Some of the option words and phrases that are included may seem purely semantic. However, those who choose to use these options find their outcomes becoming more positive.
Power vs. Neutral Words
Language has a distinct effect on the listener. Since our style of speaking is developed via our culture, history and experiences, and reinforced long before we enter the job role, it is necessary to evaluate what is being said and its effect on the listener (and the user).
The power and value of all communication will be measured by the outcome. If you are not getting the outcomes you desire, start working on changing your communication style and content. QR
Dave Yoho is the president of the oldest (since 1962), largest and the most successful small business consulting company specializing in the home improvement industry. His “Best Selling” electronically recorded series Power Linguistics is available online. His recorded materials are sold throughout the U.S. and many foreign countries. His company employs a staff of consulting experts who specialize in advising companies on how to become more profitable in their business. His company sponsors ongoing seminar programs. For more information on their products, consulting services or seminars, visit daveyoho.com or contact email@example.com.