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February 5, 2008

Straight Talk: Three Ways Companies Lose the Nerve to Communicate Clearly

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: E-mail Newsletter

Have you ever watched someone walk along the edge of a curb, treating it as if it were a balancing beam? One foot in front of the other—toe to heel, heel to toe. It's no big surprise they usually manage to keep from falling off the curb and "plummeting" six whole inches to the street below. After all, they are doing something they've done since infancy—walk straight without falling over. Not terribly difficult.

Now suppose that person is you. In front of you is an eight-inch wide curb stretching 20 feet in length. Your goal: put one foot in front of the other until you get to the other side. In other words, walk straight without falling over. This time though, the curb isn't six inches from the street, it's 60 feet. That's right, there's a 60-foot drop to the blacktop below. Scary, huh?

The only thing that's changed from the first scenario to the second scenario is the consequence for failing to stay on the curb. That's it. But that's more than enough to allow fear to enter the picture. Essentially you begin to second-guess your ability to do what you know for sure you can do—walk in a straight line without falling over.

Ironically, your second-guessing and lack of confidence actually heightens the likelihood for failure. What if you were able to take the same confidence you had in your abilities when the stakes weren't as high and use them in the scenario when the stakes are higher (60 feet higher to be exact)?

The result? You would walk straight across without batting an eye. The same is true for communication. Confidence in your communication gives you the ability to talk straight and walk right into the arms of your customers.

The dictionary defines confidence as the belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; assurance and certitude. When you're confident, it should come through in the way your organization talks about itself. Do you believe in what you're selling? Do you know what unique value and ability your organization is standing on? Are you confident? Do you tell people?

If not, one of these three things is undermining your ability to talk straight:

  1. Lack of agreement - Your own team can't agree that walking the curb is what you really do. Without vertical and horizontal buy-in on values and culture, companies tend to stay as far away from the edge as possible. Dumbed down, unclear, ambiguous communication misses the mark.
  2. No prioritization - Everything is important. For fear of missing some important fact, companies overwhelm people with information.
  3. Lack of repetition - We feel funny repeating ourselves but that's exactly what we need to do.
  4. Personality™ can't give you a better product or service, that's ultimately your job. But what we can do is help you see the value that's been there the whole time. We can show you how to embrace it and how to put one foot in front of the other and tell the whole world with confidence why they can't live without you.

    When we do, you'll walk straight across into the arms of your customer without batting an eye.

    Interested? Drop me a line.

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