After you understand the big picture of what you have been communicating with your audience about, the essential next step is to truly understand and empathize with your audience and their motivations. Communications are far more than verbal, one must be in a position to read non-verbal signs and understand the motivations that are driving the communications. True motivations are far more difficult to understand unless a foundation of trust has been established between the parties. Professional communicators especially during negotiations will be very non-direct in their true motivations. They look to keep their counterparts off balance in effort to achieve their true objectives. But what if you could understand those motivations before the communications really began? This would remove obstacles up front and provide immediate credibility to the conversation.
The key is having the knowledge to do this. This may appear simple, too simple, to the skilled professional - but the answer is to ask and close your mouth. Ask the hard questions. What are the hard questions? That will depend solely on the subject and situation at hand but the truth of the matter is all hard questions are typically the most direct and simplest. The hard technical or detailed ones are ancillary and can be answered once the hard questions have been exposed. Uncovering your client’s objectives is the focus of this article. The person or people sitting across the table have concerns in addition to their objectives. Concerns are the largest part of understanding the objectives of the other party. Fear is the single largest contributor to the lack of trust between parties. Fear leads to lack of trust, lack of trust to surface communications, surface communications to not getting their objectives. You can see the downward spiral.
So open up the conversation with the purpose of uncovering their true objectives and truly look to them for buy in and understanding. Ask the questions, close your mouth, and listen. Once the true objectives are on the table - offer solutions and a good deal of them. Not final solutions, ones that are defined and definite. But collaborate with the other party, bring ideas that lead to solutions and help them involve themselves with the solutions development. Sound simple enough, why don't people do it more often? Pressure for results is the leading cause for poor communications. Professional sales professionals are under high pressure to produce results, and produce them now. This leads to a very pressure cooker environment, one that develops a culture that does not allow true communications to take place. The pressure results in sales professionals embedding themselves on one side of the fence in their ideas which in turn causes the opposite side to develop a strong sense of resistance. Time is the answer and none of the 3 parts we have discussed can be pressured to occur quickly. One must remain calm, show patience, listen, and stay the course. Allow the communications the time they need while setting expectations each time you sit down.
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