Hello! I hope you had a good weekend! I was shaking jet lag but still managed to get a 100km bike ride
in. Speaking of bikes and if you don’t speak German, this week’s subject line may not make sense to you:
“Hätte, Hätte, Fahrradkette.”
In German, it means: “coulda, coulda, bike chain” and can be used in the same way as ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’. Clearly, it’d be a phrase I’d dig. ; ) Not that referencing regret is a common practice but, of course, any phrase with a rhyme, I’ll use all the time! ; )
I dug into recent uses of it in Germany and found a TV host that wrote a book with the phrase in the title about optimal decision making.
As I haven’t read it and didn’t see an article to expand upon, I thought the idea of decision-making was intriguing. (Isn’t it always?)
- 🤞 💬 Believing you have communicated – Leslie shares a poignant story about a Stanford study illustrating how people often assume they are getting their message across. Spoiler alert: they’re mostly wrong. He quotes, William Whyte, an astute observer of post-war corporate life: “The great enemy of communication is the illusion of it.”
- 🗣️ 🙉 Talking without listening –“When we talk, we can hear ourselves, which is enough for us to convince ourselves that someone else has heard us. But much of the time, they are not even hearing our beautifully crafted eloquence, let alone absorbing it.” Leslie says the best way to achieve this is to figure out what they’re interested in, what they care about, and speak to it.
- 🔌 🤷 Failing to connect – according to communication scientists, there are two fundamental levels operating in every conversation: The content level - ‘what we’re talking about’. Then there is the relationship level - a subterranean, emotion-driven, inarticulate conversation about whether you and I like and respect each other. The real deal is: success at the relationship level is a precondition of success at the content level; if no mutually satisfactory connection has been made, then no matter how eloquent and clever you are being, the conversation is guaranteed to go badly.
- 🙋 🤔 Trying to convince – paradoxically, Leslie continues, the worst way to convince someone of something they don’t already believe is to go for a slam dunk argument. Consider scrapping the ‘I want you to understand’ or ‘I want you to see what’s best for you’ because they’ll feel that you want to push them over. They’ll stop listening to you because they feel threatened, and they’ll push back with whatever weapons are at hand - irrationality, aggression, silence. Psychologists call this “reactance”.
- 🥈 😕 Second-guessing – it is easy and all-to-common to neglect to consider what your audience is thinking and feeling. That’s not good but is probably better than making an over-confident guess. Leslie’s point is that there are few things more annoying than a person who seems to believe they know exactly what’s in your mind when they really have no idea.
- 🤭 🥴 Saying too much – Most people would rather be doing many, many other things other than listening to you. That is easy to forget! When the receiver feels that their time is being wasted they opt out of the communication at the first opportunity - or, if they’re trapped, nurture a simmering grievance against you. (note from me: reminds me of Seth Godin’s permission marketing idea & why newsletters work!)
- 🙊 🤏 Saying too little – Psychologists call this the “curse of knowledge”. You say too little and explain yourself poorly because some part of you stubbornly assumes they must already know what you mean. You’re like the actor in a game of charades who can’t believe your teammates could be so dim not to see that you waving your arms about.
- 😏 😒 Talking down – Conversations often include an unspoken contest over relative status. This is a problem of asymmetry: we have an innate difficulty in recognizing that other people have inner lives as rich as our own. It often goes something like this: ‘I am infinitely subtle, complex, and hard to read; you are simple and predictable.’ Big oof.
- 🧐 🤨 Lack of attention to tone – I love this quote: “Tone is the music of communication”. With that Leslie meant that tone is everything that isn’t explicitly articulated. It is multi-channel: it can manifest itself in the pitch of a voice, in a particular choice of words, in punctuation, in an emoji. When you first start speaking, most people aren’t listening to what you’re saying; they’re listening to your tone and figuring out what it means.
- 🧍 🥱 Being boring – the most frequent cause of a communication failure is that no communication has taken place - and a common reason for that is the communicator fails to say anything interesting or fails to say it in an interesting way. In general, Leslie closes his 10 point recap by saying that we care too much about being right and not enough about not being boring.
Let me know which ones you didn’t expect, which are most helpful or if you have other tips!
as always, thank you for reading & sharing!
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