How to fix a miscommunication issue (or avoid it)

miscommunication, sales, semantic, word to use, sales process
What are some words to use to make the most of this conversation?

Photo credit: Birmingham Culture

Humans are very complex creatures and I have learned the hard way that a few words badly picked can lead to miscommunication. And ultimately prevent getting the desired outcome. When I realise that happened, I tend to replay the conversation ad nauseam (well, not quite, but a few times) and think through other approaches I could have had. There is apparently a French expression, “l’esprit de l’escalier”, literally the thoughts of the stairs. Essentially, what one thinks while going down the stairs (l’escalier) replaying a conversation. And finding better ways to handle a question or specific moment in the conversation. But too late… Avoiding or fixing miscommunication can be easy but there is a need to go back to the person in an efficient way.

I’ve come across an interesting article in the Guardian that covers this exact matter, i.e. what words to use or not and gives some interesting tips. You can find the article here. It presents the work of a professor of social interaction (this must be a fascinating job as this is pretty core to humans day to day lives). And suggests a few tweaks to the way we are normally presenting / asking things. I particularly like the suggestion to use the verb willing as in: “Would you be willing to…”. Apparently, even using willing in a cold emailing and cold calling context increase the likelihood to progress the conversation…

Putting it all in practice…

Of course, there are more words to use and not use mentioned in the article. But as a start, I am going to add “willing” in my sales weaponry. For example, when hitting a wall and not progressing with a prospect. If I perceived there’s been a miscommunication issue, one turn of phrase I’ll use will be:

“I am conscious I did not express myself most efficiently. And it seems like you have taken the decision not to progress. Would you be willing to block 15 minutes to go through [point discussed]. And assuming you do, do I have a chance to see you change your mind, assuming the reasons I share stand-up?”

Sales is fascinating and its complexity comes from the fact that humans are complex animals. So I am always keen to hear ways to resolve miscommunication issues. If you have some similar insights, do not hesitate to share, I’d appreciate it. I am currently reading an interesting book, titled “Talk lean” by Alan Palmer. It covers present how best to communicate and have written up some of the learnings I took away from it.


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