Communications – Our success depends on it (Part 1)
Let me preface this article by saying, you’ve heard it all before. However, the question is, how often do we apply what we know? Will Rogers said it best. “You don’t know anything unless you’ve learned it and you haven’t learned it unless you remember it.” In real estate sales, we have to remember this because our success depends on our communication skills.
Of all the obstacles to making life work, poor communications ranks at the top of the list. It is a primary cause of divorce, partnership breakups, law suits, lost sales, even war. In the immortal words of Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Or, as the song goes, “There are no good guys, there are no bad guys; there’s only you and me, and we just disagree.”
Communication is the art of being heard, understood, and acknowledged. Communication can be defined as a common union between u n i, leading to action. By communicating well, we can avoid having to say, “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure that what you heard is what I meant.”
Notwithstanding all that has been said on the subject of communication, whether in sales, management, or interpersonal relationships, most problems in communications are related more to a ‘difference of opinion’ than to anything else. Before I offer support for this position, let’s first take a quick look at some of the more common reasons attributed to communication breakdowns.
First, is the self-defeating habit of using technical jargon or any other words that are unclear to our listeners. I see this all the time with Realtors using “Shop Talk.” To avoid this problem, Voltaire, a French philosopher and historian, used to say, “If you want to converse with me, define your terms.”
Second, our communications break down because we just don’t speak clearly enough. For example: A bum knocked on a door and asked if he could do some work for some food. The man of the house said, “Sure, you can paint my porch.” When the bum was finished so quickly, the man asked him if he had painted the railings of the porch also. The bum replied, “Porch! I thought you said Porsche.” Does this mean if your words are familiar to your listener and enunciated clearly that your communication problems are over? Not by a long shot.
Third, beyond not reading body language and tone, a poor choice of words also can hinder effective communication. For instance, which restaurant would you frequent—one that offered succulent, tender, filet mignon steak or one that advertised dead cow? Do you sell your home and buy a house or sell your house and buy a home?
Fourth, another major obstacle to effective communication is that we lose sight of our purpose. Is our purpose to influence or control, to entertain or teach, to get attention or to posture? Or, is it to gain understanding so that we can persuade, sell, gain support, or move someone to action? Before you communicate, then, clarify your motives, rethink your objectives, and reconsider your intentions. As Realtors how often do buyers end up buying homes that don’t meet the criteria they told you? Thus, the term “Buyers are liars.” They probably didn’t lie, rather they just had trouble articulating their emotions about an environment they saw themselves living in.
Fifth, one more reason attributed to communication breakdowns is that our listener simply doesn’t or won’t listen. Actually, it’s much more likely that you aren’t communicating with the appropriate ‘ego state.’ For instance, if you want to talk to someone’s ‘adult’, talk facts. If you want to reach their ‘internal child,’ meaning their emotions, talk about their wants, their needs, their desires, or their problems. Discussing these topics will almost always reveal your prospects true motivators.
Sixth, even if you follow the above advice, there’s one more obstacle to effective communication. It’s called ‘selective perception,’ filtered by one’s preconceived world view — the ingrained habit of hearing, seeing, and believing only that which we want to hear, see, or believe. Nevertheless, even this roadblock on the highway to a person’s mind can be bypassed, if your presentation appeals to the satisfaction of your common selfish needs.
And now, notwithstanding the above barriers to effective communication, I would like to suggest that a lot of our breakdowns are the result of nothing more than simple differences of opinion. To improve the odds of influencing your prospects thought process, be willing to open your heart, mind, and ears to opinions that may differ from yours.
How to deal with this obstacle will be covered in my next Roger Hance on…