Miscommunication The Death of Relationships

argueI often speak about the importance and value of building customer relationships but today I want to talk about relationships within an organization.

Glenn Ross asks a lot of really valuable questions in his post The Most Important Component in a Relationship.  What is it? Communication. He starts the article by quoting Dale Carnegie:

“90 percent of all management problems are caused by miscommunication.”

                        –Dale Carnegie

That is a staggering percentage but I would tend to believe it is true. Whether the miscommunication is in person or more likely through email (you can’t see the person’s face or hear the tone of voice), it can cause severe damage to a relationship which in turn impacts the company’s ability to successful proceed.

I’m part of a small group introducing a new concept and trying to reach a new audience. Most of the people on the committee have been working on the project for more than a year but a couple are new. At a recent meeting one person who has been there a while got into a discussion with one of the new people. Both had valid points. Both had distinctly differing views. Both felt they were right.

Neither listened to the other.

The results? Well, there wasn’t one. How many times have you seen that happen at work. Two people, both strong in their beliefs, refuse to listen to the other point of view and rather than compromise or come to some resolution the situation goes on unresolved. Who suffers? In this case, it will be the customer.

So what can we do?

If we find ourselves repeating our point of view more than twice, perhaps we need to step back and listen to what is being said in response. Rather than muscle your idea through, ask questions of the other person.  Why do they feel that way? What do they fear will happen? How to they envision it proceeding? What other experience have they had that has led them to their opinions?

People don’t mis-communicate for sport – there is something else involved. So the next time you are in a disagreement or find that you have been misunderstood – don’t get defensive, ASK questions to understand where the other person is coming from. 

Remember the old saying – we have TWO ears and ONE mouth and we should use them proportionately.

Thanks to Glenn for reminding us of the importance of communication.

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Do Clothes Make or Break the Moment?

The stars were on parade at the Emmy’s last night – each having their Make or Break Moment live on the red carpet as paparazzi snapped and interviewers grabbed the most famous of the famous for a 30 second sound bite. 

Make or break moments can happen even before you open your mouth.  So often we make assumptions about people based on their dress.  Remember Bjork and the famous swan dress?

As a speaker, a rule of thumb is to dress one step up from the dress code of your audience.  When I was still working for Cole National/Pearle Vision, we were acquired by Luxottica Corporation/Lenscrafters.  As a home office employee going through the long drawn out process of being sold, the dress code had been down graded from business to business casual to “whatever the hell you want.”  Most of us wore t-shirts and jeans.

The day after the purchase was final, the Luxottica officials were scheduled to come and meet with the department heads, directors and vice presidents.  The Lux people had done their research and were familiar with our lack of dress code.  Following the “dress one step up” rule, they arrived in polo shirts and Dockers expecting to address an audience in jean chic.

However, in an unspoken gesture of solidarity, without exception, the Cole/Pearle managers arrived in full on dress mode.  We all dusted off our two and three piece suits, spit shined our infrequently worn dress shoes and even took a shower.  We knew that the first impression would be critical if we wanted to continue as a valuable asset to the company.

After greeting the audience, the clearly uncomfortable Lux leaders joked that they had wanted to fit in by dressing in a business casual mode and were surprised by our formal dress.

“We’re here for a week,” the president said “and we’ve only packed business casual clothes, so could you please go back to your normal fashion of wearing jeans?”

The point was – without us saying a word – our dress had set the tone; had raised us up in their estimation.

Isn’t the same true for you with your customers?  What does your fashion sense say about you to your customer?  Do you project an image of cleanliness, professionalism and authority?  Or have you just thrown on your most comfortable clothes hoping that WHAT you say will be valued above HOW you look?

CNN offers an article on how to dress for success.

Interested in helping others make a statement?  Check out Dress for Success a charitable organization that provides business attire for those in need.

Meagan Francis offers a guide to creating a Dress Code for your Associates.

Finally, in the background of the above picture of the lovely Felicity Huffman, check out this guy.  Don’t you wonder what impression he was striving for?

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