Field mice and other rodents are a part of life when you live near the hills as we do. After a recent close encounter with our long-tailed neighbors, two techs from different exterminators arrived at our home to take a look at our issue and prescribe a solution. Now if the sound of tiny claws scratching the innards of your walls makes you squeamish, I apologize in advance. But if you care about being a better communicator, take a deep breath and read on because there are broadly applicable lessons here.
My experience with the two exterminator technicians went as follows:
- Tech 1 – “I think we’ve maybe got it covered. I feel good about this. I’m wondering about one spot, but let’s see how it goes.”
- Tech 2 – “I’d like to think of myself as the rodent expert. I see a couple spots that are suspect. So here’s what I’m going to do…”
Let’s break this down…
Tech 1 was vague. While he said he had it covered, his degree of certainty was only “maybe.” And, he “wondered” about which spots were the problem. Doesn’t he know? Also, he didn’t outline the steps he was going to take to resolve the problem. He finally concluded with an indeterminate outcome. “We’ll see how it goes.” I don’t want to see how it goes. I want the problem solved.
Tech 2, on the other hand, was definitive. He established himself confidently as an expert upfront. He doesn’t wonder about potential problem spots, but specifically points out two spots he’s going to work on, and then he tells me the steps he’s going to take to protect my home.
And guess what? I’m writing this article as Tech 2 is doing the work. The confidence and specificity of his language won me over because it engendered my trust that he could handle it. While both exterminators likely could have equivalently and competently handled the situation, one of them made the difference in closing the deal based upon how he communicated.
Whether you are an exterminator or the CEO of an enterprise, how you communicate matters. What you say, and how you say it, is determinant in your overall effectiveness and success. Improving your delivery is our specialty at Decker Communications.
We work with many finance folks prepping them for various interviews and helping them with their continuous improvement as spokespeople. Squawk Box. Bloomberg. Fox Business. Jim Cramer. MSNBC. You name it and we’ve coached a client for it. Take, for example, one financial executive that we recently coached out of the “I think” syndrome. In one interview we reviewed, this client had said “I think” more than a dozen times in under four minutes. If “I think” were part of a drinking game, he’d be tipsy. And, until he worked with us, he hadn’t been aware of his communication tick. And it is a type of tick that diluted the clarity of his message and undermined the perception of his confidence.
Most of us don’t want to hear what you ‘think’. We want to hear what you ‘know’. Unconscious verbal ticks that use soft language cue your audience into how confident you are about a topic. To be an effective communicator you must learn to be aware of the soft language in your vernacular and reduce or eliminate it to make a good impression. You can start noticing soft words like these in speech patterns so that you can work to eliminate them:
- I think
- I hope
When exterminator Tech 1 used soft words, it eroded my confidence in his competence. When the finance executive overused “I think” it undermined his credibility. In the end, how you communicate will boost or diminish how others perceive you. If you want to elevate the perception others have of you, start by eliminating the soft words.