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Just for fun, check out your last 25 emails and see which category they fall into.
1) People talking “at” you
2) People talking “to” you
3) People talking “with” you
You’ll know the difference because if someone is talking “at” you, they’re likely sending you communication that’s all about them and not necessarily about you. If they’re talking “to” you then they know something about you but their communication is about accomplishing their mission. If they’re talking “with” you then you are part of the conversation. What you say and need actually matter to the outcome of the conversation.
I had a call from someone who wanted me to resume satellite radio in my car (it came free for the first few months when I bought the car but I never listened to it).
He said, “It’s a great savings at only $7.95 a month!”
I responded, “I know I won’t use it so I’d rather not spend the $7.95 a month.”
He continued, “But it’s such a great savings! Rather than paying full price you’ll only be paying $7.95!”
I tried one more time, “But if I’m spending money on something I’m not using, I really don’t get how that’s saving me money.”
Aha – communicate with the recipient in mind.
I think this follows Stephen Covey’s concept of “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
When you clearly understand the position of the other person (or market, or class, or audience) you’re in a better position to communicate your ideas and have them STICK!
One of my seminar leaders explained it like this.
Imagine you’re at a bus stop and the person you’re communicating with is at another bus stop.
In order to meet them where they are, you need to know which bus stop they’re at!
Communicating with them like they’re at your stop will do no good; they could be one, or five or 10 stops behind you (or way out in front!).
Meet them at their stop first to know how it makes sense to bring them to yours.
Talking “at” people doesn’t work to encourage engagement, resolve conflict or inspire positive change.
Clearly understanding their position first will absolutely, positively bring the win/win that good communication is meant to inspire.
So you had to go through more than 25 emails to find someone talking “with” you?
Focus on the good stuff (and be thankful for the delete key )