Choose Your Words Very Carefully
I like to think of myself as a straightforward person. One of my favorite sayings is, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” So I actually shocked myself last week when I heard myself say to my babysitter, “If you want, you can come at 3:15 tomorrow instead of 3:00.” To which she replied, “I’ll let you know.”
WHAT? Why did I say that? I MEANT that I wanted her to come at 3:15, giving me enough time to get the girls down for their nap so there wouldn’t be a big hassle when I went to leave. Or, heaven forbid, she had to put them down for the nap herself, which, at the time, I just didn’t see going smoothly.
Let me be clear. I was the only one to blame in this exchange because I was not clear about what I wanted. And the takeaway for me is that, when it really matters, I need to be very specific in the way that I communicate, not just with a babysitter, but with everyone that I interact with. Otherwise, I might be facing an outcome that I did not want, with repercussions that extend far beyond what time the sitter shows up to how, and even IF, my girls nap, affecting my ability to run errands and get my work done.
Now, this might seem like a personal issue, but let me tell you how this applies to you and your work life.
Deadlines: If you say to your prepress guy—“I would really love to get this client a proof before lunch tomorrow.”—what do you think he hears? He doesn’t hear that you NEED it, he hears that it would be a nice thing, so if he can get to it, he will, and if not, well, no biggie.
So, if you HAVE to have that proof before 11 a.m. tomorrow, just say that. Don’t dance around it. Just say what you need and make sure that you are heard correctly so there are no disappointments, especially on the part of your clients.
Performance Expectations: If you are a sales manager or owner and you say to your sales people—“We have found that the people who are the most successful make about 20 phone calls per day.”—what do you think they hear? A SUGGESTION. If you REQUIRE that they make 20 calls per day, say that.
In fact, create some sort of system that requires them to track and report those calls, so that you can see that they make them. Otherwise, you have no right to be disappointed or take any disciplinary action against them for something that you merely “thought was a good idea.” Get my point?
Setting appointments: If you call a prospect and ask if you can have 10 minutes of their time to tell them about your services and equipment and show them examples of how you helped companies just like theirs, what is the easiest thing for them to say? No thanks. But what if you said, “I specialize in helping companies improve the effectiveness of their communications by increasing the value of their documents. When would be a good time for us to meet in person to discover ways that I can help you?” Which approach gets you more appointments? Yep. The second one.
So, pay special attention to the language you are using. Ask yourself, “Am I being clear here? Are my points being made effectively? Are these words communicating my intentions and requirements?”
If they are, good for you—you get an A for the day. But if not, take a hard look and make some changes. It will go a long way to helping you get where you want to be.