What They See Trumps What We Say

What They See Trumps What We Say

How many times have you ordered an expensive meal, received fair service and food, and nevertheless been dissatisfied or tempted to skimp on a gratuity? What went wrong? Was it a little sarcasm from your waiter or indifferent arrogance from your maitre d’? These occasions are affected not only by the fairness of the transaction (money for food), but by your degree of confidence and trust in the person with whom you must interact. The significance of verbal and nonverbal communication pitfalls once again show themselves. Communication skills affect how we are perceived and–wait–how often we are sued?

People in business get sued not only due to unethical business practices, but because of how they make customers, clients and patients feel. People don’t care about your education or income; people want respect, sincerity and other signs you care. What they see supercedes your academic degree.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his best-seller, Blink, shares a shared occurrence in the medical field: patient dissatisfaction and medical malpractice lawsuits. One of the driving forces in both scenarios is how doctors allurement to their patients on an emotional level. You must perform your duties as promised with an permissible outcome, but it’s not only about diagnosing the problem or curing the illness. Anytime patients feel rushed, ignored, or poorly treated, they seek some form of revenge. A medical patient told her attorney that she doesn’t want to pay her doctor because he never takes the time to truly listen. His questions were never more than perfunctory, and he never exhibited a sincere interest in her physical or psychological well being. The issue isn’t competence, but communication.

The difference between effective, dynamic listening skills and interrupting people mid-sentence is about fifteen seconds. According to medical researcher Wendy Levinson, the difference between a “rushed” visit, and a perceived thorough visit, is about three minutes per patient. This short amount of time goes a long way for people who don’t care how much you know, until they first know how much you care.

A friend shared a story about a state-of-the-art kitchen he and his wife had built in their home. They splurged and got their comprehensive kitchen, however there was nevertheless suspicion when the final invoice arrived. They were delighted by the design and quality of equipment, but questioned the invoice because of the general contractor’s attitude.

He was difficult to reach when needed, he openly contested color preferences and used technical lingo which further broadened the communication gap. When they wanted to proportion ideas or discuss other options, he never seemed to value their input and already demonstrated indifference. This behavior stirs suspicion already when we appear to get a fair deal; we examine the invoice; we question little details and, certainly, cannot recommend their sets.

How many times have you cancelled, or been tempted to cancel, a contract with your cell phone service provider based on one phone transaction with an agent who demonstrated rude or unsympathetic behavior? She was one of a thousand people at the call center, and however we generalize that the complete corporation is a team of amateurs.

I shudder when people say they don’t need better communication skills because they are a dentist, an accountant, or a service consultant at a car dealership. And however, if people don’t trust them, or don’t have meaningful communication with them, they are not prepared to place the health of their teeth, taxes or car in their hands. The likeability and credibility factors are uniformly weighed at a subconscious level.

Effective communication is difficult work; it involves both mindset (I’m going to be patient with this person) and technique (I’m going to turn off my cell phone, close the door to my office, and look them in the eyes). already on the phone, people area acutely aware of tone and information choices and sense your degree of engagement. These skills can be acquired, practiced and improved. The results are better communication, better business outcomes, and greater trust and rapport with any listener.

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