How Well Do You Communicate? I Don’t Hear You

“It is the recipient who communicates. The so-called communicator, the person who emits the communication does not communicate. He utters. Unless there is someone who hears, there is no communication. There is only noise.”

– Peter Drucker

As always, the late, great Peter Drucker put his finger on the key issue. Unfortunately, too many speakers, salespeople, marketers, supervisors and spouses ignore this point – at their peril!

Communication is a two-way process.

Speakers may speak, but they are only words … unless the words that they speak reflect the experience of their audience. Salespeople may try to sell, but there will be no sale … unless their prospective customer perceives that there is a value for them. Marketers market everywhere everyday … but unless they market the right product to a receptive audience, it is just a waste of advertising dollars. Supervisors try to supervise daily … but most of the time their employees fail to respond in the way the supervisor hoped they would. Why? We know that spouses and significant other talk past each other on a regular basis … and to what result? The divorce rate is at an all-time high.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate!” This is a famous line from the movie, “Cool Hand Luke.” And it comes back to Peter Drucker’s observation:

“Before we can communicate, we must, therefore, know what the recipient expects to see and hear.”

No one can move an individual or an audience from Point “A” to Point “B” unless they really know the audience’s definition of Point “A.” It’s exact geographic and emotional location!

And this may vary from individual to individual in each audience and from audience to audience. If you want to be successful in sales (and who doesn’t?), you should spend more time asking questions of your potential customers than practicing your (one-size-fits-all) “spiel.” Successful marketers spend a considerable amount of time identifying – and locating – a “target” audience – one that has a high likelihood of being receptive to a (personalized) message. When the “communication” is “on-target” a demand is made – that the consumer makes a purchase or, at a minimum, asks for more information.

I am reminded of a book in my library by John Wooden – “You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned.” It’s the same principle at work here (as per Peter Drucker):

1) You haven’t communicated until the audience perceives the communication (your message.)

2) You haven’t communicated until the audience hears what they expect to hear (you use the “language” of their experience.)

3) Communication is not effective until you create a demand – the audience responds to your “call to action” or they follow your lead, etc.

4) Do not confuse communication and information – they are different! And, indeed, largely opposite – yet interdependent.

In summary – get to know your audience first. Really get to know them. Your questions (in advance) will reveal the clue as to how they best receive information – and how you will effectively communicate WITH them.

With practice, you can learn to deliver a great message – in a simple manner. Simple, that is for your audience to understand and accept – even if they disagree.

We all recall that former President Ronald Reagan earned the sobriquet, “The Great Communicator.” It is interesting to hear how he explained this during his Farewell Address:

“I won a nickname: ‘The Great Communicator.’ But I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference. It was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things.”

Learn to listen – to your audience – before you start to talk. You can communicate great things. And you will be successful!

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