Remove the scary elephant in the room

5th December 2017

Here’s one of my favourite analogies…

On the way home one night, you see a man crawling on his hands and knees outside a pub. You ask what he‘s doing. He says “I’ve lost my car keys. Could you help me find them?”

So you start crawling around, searching for his keys.

After a few minutes, you say to him “This is ridiculous. I can’t believe you haven’t found them yet. Where exactly did you drop your keys?”

His reply: “In the woods across the road”

You: “Well why aren’t we looking for them over there?”

Him: “Well, there’s more light here”

You: “But the key things – the actual keys themselves – are over there”

Him: “But I don’t like it over there – it’s too dark”

This is like when people communicate, and there’s something key their audience is concerned about.

For example, an Executive doing her Annual Roadshow after a recent spate of redundancies. Everyone in the room is thinking about the redundancies – the key thing. But often the Executive doesn’t mention them at all – so doesn’t go to the dark woods. Instead, focussing only on happy, well-lit things

The result? Nobody respects the Executive’s message – and sometimes not the Executive herself. Everyone thinks she’s just spouted corporate stuff, isn’t in tune with the people etc. Because she hasn’t mentioned the things that are key to them.

I wish I’d created this analogy – it’s a belter. Because it makes it really clear: unless you go where the keys are, you won’t find the keys. And unless you address people’s concerns, they’ll stay concerned.

So, if you know your audience has concerns, take control of them. Raise these concerns yourself – ‘I know some of you have expressed concerns about X. So let me put your mind at rest by saying…’

This takes careful scripting and practising. But gives you the best chance of finding your keys

Action Point

Identify your next communication where you know your audience is concerned about something. Script and practise how you’ll raise, and then remove, these concerns. After all, if you don’t, they stay concerned.

There are lots of other techniques to overcome people’s concerns in my online video club – plus, a whole month of videos explaining how to say ‘no’ to people. You can find them here…

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