Don’t think of communication as “communication”

22nd January 2013

Most words about communication focus on the:

  • Do-er, not the receiver – “sales” is from the salesperson’s view, not the purchaser’s; “presentations” refer to the presenter etc; or
  • The communication itself – with “meetings”, people meet together; with “conversations”, people converse etc.

These are the opposite of the two most important things about communication:

  • What the receiver (not the do-er)…
  • …does after it (not during it)

Changing the name of a communication can often change people’s mindset. For example, some salespeople think “selling” is something they “do” to someone. It isn’t. It’s a joint thing. A better phrase might be that they’re making an “agreement to help”.

Similarly, if you’re presenting, don’t think of it as a presentation. Instead, think of it as a “discussion to trigger actions”.

Other examples:

  • Update meeting – ensuring next week’s better
  • FYI – this’ll help you do X
  • Meeting – a decision-making, action-triggering discussion
  • Feedback – how to do better next time
  • Conference – shifting everyone’s mindset and performance

You might not say these new phrases out loud (I don’t know many salespeople who’d say “so, Mrs Customer, let’s create an Agreement To Help”).

But thinking in this way helps you focus on the right things.

After all, if you don’t, you could end up thinking the communication is just about you or what happens during it. Neither is right.

Action point

Identify your main communications today. Ask yourself: ‘for every one of them, have I thought about the (1) audience (2) afterwards? If not, now’s the time…

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