Welcome to Breakdown 11. Today we tackle communication.
me trying to figure out what to say mid BD
BD is where I teach a coach's secret secret sauce: how to dissect a person's problem so you can give them the solution. Think of it a little bit like making an ice cream cake - I don't just show you the final cake but the recipe and mechanism that got me there. If you can learn this skill then you can start coaching yourself through your challenges and put me firmly out of business.
If you'd like to have a problem of yours BD'd please feel free to just hit reply and let me know (I've currently got 2 in the chamber so send one across if you have one.)
It's always a delight to do one of these and help one of you.
BD posts can get quite (very) long as I'm a nerd and proud of it and will fight you (with my words OBVIOUSLY. Nerds don't do fisty cuffs.)
Estimated full reading time: 8 minutes.
Estimated impact: Medium to Large
My problem is customers not seeing our value in what we offer.
This week’s BD isn’t about business and getting customs to buy product, it’s really about any situation where you're trying to communicate with someone and you can’t seem to get your point of view across or persuade them. For some of you, this might seem like your whole life. I've been there.
There’s two different communication principles that we need to understand to help this BD, and by working our way through them you'll naturally start to see the answer to the problem.
Let’s get into it :)
The Johari Window
The Johari Window is a mental model from psychology which describes how complicated communicating with another human being is. We take speaking to each other for granted, but once you begin to break it down you start to see how much is going on in EVERY conversation you enter into.
Each time you speak, the other person brings themselves, their perception of their world, plus their perception of themselves and their perception of you to the conversation. You bring the same but from your angle. All of these different filters and frames are interacting with each other and shifting over time depending on your states, who has authority, the context of your conversation etc etc. The list is basically endless.
It can actually get quite complicated if you start to map all of these out, but to simplify it down, every single person you meet your entire life has a particular window through which you need to communicate with them if you want to communicate with them. Every single person you met will have a different sized window that will be constantly changing.
Some people’s window is the size of a postage stamp: you must communicate with them with following their rules, their language, and their words, or you’re just absolutely not going to have any real level of communicating with them. I love communicating with these people as I take it as a challenge to make them laugh.
Other people’s Johari Windows are so big they’re basically the size of known universe: you can communicate with them in any single way you want to, and they will do their absolute best to understand you, respect you, be open to you, and generally just be a delight to speak to.
We all have a Johari Window that is limited in some form, and no matter how great a communicator you think you are. There are ALWAYS areas of your Johari Window which could be expanded and be improved.
All great communicators have one thing in common: they are OBSESSED with finding the boundaries of the other person window so they can communicate with the OTHER person. They do not waste a single second moaning that people are not meeting their window. The second I met someone who starts complaining that their relationship is breaking down because the OTHER PERSON can't communicate I know where the problem really is.
Every single second of your life you’re waiting for someone to come to your Johari Window you're losing. You're losing ie not winning and going backwards and being destructive. You are complaining, you are being selfish, and you're losing. Don't be doing that.
OBSESS over other people's Johari Window and you'll be a master communicator. How do you do learn to match and figure out where those edges of the Window are?
There are three key tactics.
Language: Human beings have been using this technology for about 250 or so thousand years, to help us communicate with each other. Each and every microculture has a different set of words and phrases they use to show allegiance to the group. When you sit down with your parents, if you grew up in a very strict household you don’t communicate with them using the same words as you do with your friends.
To give thanks with your parents is probably the word ‘Thank You,' but with your friends it could be anything from ‘Thanks champ’ to ‘Fuck You’ depending on who you friends are. This is understanding different Johari Windows. The most obvious way I use this is that there are particular clients of mine who I can happily swear around and know its fine and others who if I swore around we would have a very bad time.
It’s incredibly critical to understand that each and every person you meet needs a different language set from you for them to see you as part of the same tribe. And considering we are all humans, we are all part of the same tribe. When I’m around the elderly, I am so respectful. If I’m at a young school full of young men, I'm a completely different human being than I am when I’m around my clients, than I am when I’m around my really close friends, than I am when I’m around my partner.
Everyone on the planet has many, many different sides of their personality, and we should all aim to create the safest place that we can for communication with people. That means making sure that we show people the side of our personality that they can connect with, that they can understand, and that they can appreciate. This starts with language.
Energy: Before you all freak out with that word: all I mean by energy is how up-tempo and loud you are versus how quiet and mellow you are. Every person wants a different level of energy from you because each person is comfortable with a certain amount of energy in a conversation. Too much they shut down. Too little they don't open up.
Depending on the people you’re around, depending on the social hierarchy and the status of all the people, you may want to be very, very quiet and just listen, or you may want to be very, very up-tempo and try and create energy. Match and follow those around you and find the Goldilocks Zone of 'just right.'
Leading Versus Listening: Maybe 95% of the conversations that I’m in in my life I’m leading. That means I’m asking the questions, I’m smiling, and I’m helping run the conversation. The other person doesn't have to think about what to say, there are no awkward silences or long pauses, I'm using my presence and body language to make them feel at ease. We are in my world so they don't have to worry about any part of the communication and instead can just relax and enjoy themselves. This is leading.
I’m doing this to make the other person feel safe. Just about every conversation you ever have with someone at some level they feel unsafe. Think about how rarely you feel you can actually REALLY express how you feel? That's what safe means. Lead to give people that space to step into if they want too.
That said, there are some conversations that I’m in where I don’t do the leading. I listen. I allow the other person to lead the conversation. I allow the other person to direct where we're going, what we are talking about, let them hold the space, organise the plans and I’m being respectful and following their lead and just trying to help and make their job easier. This is listening.
Each person want’s a different level of leadership and it’s a HUGE part of their window! If someone likes feeling important in a conversation, don't be a dildo and try and be more important than them! This is about THEIR window NOT yours. (PS one of my favorite life principles is to try not to be a dildo. Thinking it could be my book title?)
When you think about any of these three areas even for a brief amount of time, you’re actually communicating with the person you’re with and going to THEM and THEIR world. It's a PREREQUISITE to any decent communication in your life.
Decide Authority means that in most situations when you’re talking to a human being there is one person who gets to decide certain things in the conversation. They have the DA. It's incredibly important to be aware of who has the DA in different conversations that you're in.
For example, if another person thinks that you’re being aggressive, you don’t have the DA in that situation. They do, because it’s their perception of you being aggressive. They have the DA. Not you. You can moan all you want, but know that if you're doing that you're going over to L-Town (ps the link click is worth it.)
One of the most common things that I see in communication breakdowns is people getting confused thinking they have the Decide Authority when they don’t.
If someone thinks you’re being aggressive that’s THEIR DECISION to make. You can sit there and say, “I don’t think I’m aggressive,” all you want, and you’re just being full of shit. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think. It’s not your decision, it’s theirs, and if you start looking to communication from the fact that, “Well, I need to go and meet their Johari Window, and I need to realize they have the Decision Authority,” meaning they get to decide what value is not you, fucking amazing things will happen.
OTHER PEOPLE decide what is valuable to them. Not you. THEM. So you need to reverse-engineer what THEY WANT and use their Window to give it to them in a way THEY understand.
If you apply these two principles to your communication, you're effectively looking to communicate with the other person first and with their world as your guide. That’s a pretty incredible place to be and you’re immediately going to notice a difference in your life, business and relationships. Plus you'll be catapulted into the top 10% of communicators in the world.
Another way of saying that from a very famous book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, is that you seek first to understand and then be understood. Your entire life will change if you just remember this one principle.
You need to go to these people, and you need to realize, “Well, if they get to decide what value is, I need to go and figure out what value is for these people,” and then show them in a way that fits in their Johari Window, and if they’re open to it, they will see the value. Meaning, if they’re open to actually buying what you want, they will see the value.
Thinking that you can walk around getting people to communicate with you without going to them first is like going to France and expecting everyone in France to speak English. That’s just stupid and idiotic and absurd. You need to learn the native language, and every single person that you meet has their own native language.
If the client’s or anyone in your life is not seeing the value you’re proposing it’s because, one, you’re not communicating with them through their Johari Window and, two, you're deciding what value is rather than realizing they have the DA in that situation. They have the Decide Authority, and you need to go to them and figure out what they find that is valuable, and then show them through their Johari Window in how you could give them more of them.
If you take the time to do this, if you even just take five minutes before you meet someone to really think about what they value, and how they communicate, and how you can serve them, everything will change because you’re actually putting in thought and work into how you're communicating rather than thinking that just because you can speak you're somehow a master communicator.
Just because you have a brain doesn’t make you a brain surgeon, and just because you can use words doesn’t make you a master communicator. If you take the time to put in the effort and invest in your ability to go to people and communicate with them rather than getting them to communicate with you, truly amazing things will happen, and you will have no problems getting your clients to see the value you are proposing.