Every organization we at QBQ, Inc. work with tells us the biggest problem they have is “communication.” We all know how challenging effective communication can be. Of course, it’s always framed this way: “Why don’t they communicate better?” In other words, people know there’s a problem, but don’t think it’s their problem. “If only they would communicate better, things would be great around here!” we’re told.
Well, as believers in personal accountability, you know it’s not someone else’s job to understand me, rather it’s my job to work on being understood. In other words, I need to own the problem.
So, with this whole communication problem in mind, let me introduce you to a friend, who happens to be my speaking coach and writing partner—David Levin. Suffice it to say, I would not be what and where I am today if this wonderful gent hadn’t come alongside me in 1995. And that’s exactly why I am excited to share with you a bit from the Introduction of his brand new book, Don’t Just Talk, Be Heard. Enjoy!
John G. Miller, author of …
QBQ! The Question Behind the Question Flipping the Switch … Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability Outstanding … 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional —————————————–
INTRODUCTION: The Communication Gap
I was driving along one afternoon, not far from home, when suddenly I noticed police lights flashing in my rearview mirror. Really? I thought. For me? No. It can’t be me. I always think it is, but it never is. So I slowed down, moved over a bit to let the car pass. But … it didn’t pass. It stayed behind me. The siren blipped. Wow. It is me! I can’t believe it! So I pulled all the way over and stopped. The car stopped behind me. The officer got out, and approached.
To fully appreciate this story, there’s something you need to know about me. I can be a very literal person. When someone speaks, I tend to get locked on the specific words they use, and the literal meaning of those words. That may not sound like such a bad thing, but when the literal meaning is different from what the other person is really saying—which happens more often than you might think—it can get me into trouble. And this is especially likely to happen when I’m under stress of some sort, like, say, being pulled over by the cops. So, with that in mind, back to our story …
The officer approached. I rolled down my window. I was on high alert, listening very carefully, wanting to be every bit the good, cooperative citizen. He said, “Do you have your license and registration?”
Notice, please, he did not say, “May I have your license and registration?” No. What he said was, “Do you have your license and registration?” which is a completely different question.
I heard the question. I processed. Then, after careful consideration—and in my most respectful, humble, and sincere manner—answered, “Yes.” That’s it. Just “yes.” And then I sat there, looking at him, waiting for his next question.
Effective communication is the subject of this book, and that was not it.
How do I know? Well, the look on the officer’s face, for one thing. (Think, Dirty Harry.) Seriously? You’re messing with me? he seemed to be thinking. You think that’s funny? All right, wise guy, I’ll show you funny. And boy, did he. The charge: Going 42 in a 30 mph zone. The fine: $126. Hilarious.
So no, that was not effective communication on my part, and not just because of the ticket. The real problem was that there was a huge gap between my intention and the officer’s perception of me, between what I was trying to say and what he actually heard. Remember, I fully intended to be respectful and cooperative. That’s what I thought I was doing. But what he heard from me was essentially the complete opposite of that. How does that happen? How is it possible for there to be such a huge gap between who we are and how we come off to others?
This book is about that gap: The gap between intention and perception. …
Effective communication may be the subject of this book, but it’s really just a means to an end. Here’s what this book is really about:
• Building a better business • Being a better leader • Finding a job that’s more suited to you • Building stronger relationships • Being more successful at whatever you do
It’s just that communicating more effectively is the quickest—and best—way to get there. So, as you read through the book, keep in mind the real benefits of doing the work: It will help you reach your goals—and make a real difference in your life. —————————————–
If you enjoyed QBQ! and Flipping the Switch, both of which David helped me write, you will enjoy Don’t Just Talk. Considering how important communication is to anyone’s success, this book is a worthwhile investment. Click here to learn more about it. Good stuff!
John G. Miller