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Saturday, 28 July 2012

Communication - keep trying

I came off the phone the other day knowing that I hadn’t got through to the person on the other end about my point of view.

The indication was that I had not, because if I had got my message over effectively, the person on the line would have been as annoyed as me, and the reaction would have been: “Let’s get this sorted”, rather than :“Okay, let’s look at that in a few weeks when X has happened” (meaning never).

I knew I’d forgotten to say the one thing that would have made all the difference. So to find out what that might be, I went back to a great book by Shelle Rose Charvet to remind myself what I could have done differently to improve the communication.

In this situation there were two things I should have remembered and paid attention to:

1. The type of information he needed
Did he need to see, hear, read or do something with the information? Over the phone he was only ever going to hear what I said, so perhaps I should have sent an email or information to back up the call? Or would PowerPoint or Excel have worked best for him? In this instance, using a webinar and spreadsheet worked a treat.

2. What was his motivation?
As I’ve written in a previous blog, I’m motivated by affiliation. The challenge for me is I often jump straight to saying that the problem is causing “unhappy or demotivated staff”, “friction” or “upset”. Those people motivated by achievement may well be turned off by these words unless I start talking about the potential outcome being “failure” or a “delay”. In this particular instance I think power, via financial security, was more the issue. In a subsequent call I simply mentioned the cost implications of ignoring the information (backed up by the Excel document) and he was suddenly on side.

Next time you walk away from a situation where you’ve failed to convince someone of your opinion, just think about what you could have done differently and try again. But, a word of caution, please don’t then become angry as I blogged about last week.

Alison Smith
Sowing the seeds of effective communication in procurement

* Previously blogged on Supply Management

Picture Source: repairmyexcel.com via Alison on Pinterest

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