Miss Communication: Selling is a Two Way Street

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I was catching up with a friend recently and heard a story about a painful proposal meeting with a client. Her team was on top of their game — they were prepared, practiced and professional. Too bad the same couldn’t be said about the client — they were late because someone on their team sent out the wrong room number, people took calls during the presentation and two of the people came to the meeting knew nothing about changes the technical supervisor requested and spent the first part of the meeting getting them up to speed. My friend was proud of how her team handled the situation, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted the client to accept the proposal. If this is how they handled a meeting they asked for, how are they going to handle requests for information and deadlines?

Business woman on the phone

Is this the right time to be on the phone? Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether you’re in a proposal meeting, a job interview or sales call it’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. Obviously the one doing the selling, proposing or being interviewed is the person in the hot seat, but it doesn’t mean that everyone else is off the hook.

Put yourself in my friend’s place. Getting more business is a high priority, but so is being able to successfully deliver on what they promise on time and within budget. In the interactions she had with the potential client, she could already see where there was a high likelihood for problems and a low likelihood for success. After some discussion with senior staff, they were considering withdrawing their proposal.

Think about job interviews where you’re grilled about your background and qualifications, but aren’t offered much information about the mission, team or work environment of the potential employer. You may spend an hour or two selling yourself but may not be sold that this is the organization where you belong.

Even when you’re selling a website redesign, you can go into the meeting with a great design and an awesome pitch but if the client is rude and seems difficult to work with you may just walk away.

Just like how you are communicating when you aren’t speaking, you’re selling yourself even when you’re the client. All the verbal and non-verbal communication cues you give off do as much to sell you and your business or product as any presentation or product. And if you aren’t careful about what you’re communicating (or not communicating) you could be the one loosing out on important business opportunities.

It’s good to remember that just because you’re in a “Power Position” it doesn’t mean that you’re the only one with any power. Sales, job interviews and proposals are two-way streets. You need to give people a reason to want to work with you. Communicating clearly and professionally will go a long way in making sure that happens.

Miss Communications – Trolls, Free Speech and Trying to Get Along

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The Intersection of 36th and Troll

The Intersection of 36th and Troll (Photo credit: sea turtle)

It seems like every few days I hear another story about someone being trolled online to the point that they’re being threatened with rape and/or death. Threats that are so vile and filled with hate that people go off-line and underground because not just their names get splashed across the web, but the names of their spouses and kids along with home addresses and phone numbers. It blows my mind that people go online to express an opinion and suddenly they’re in fear for their lives and the lives of people the love. To be honest friends, I’m a little worried to even write about this topic should it cause Hell Fire to rain down upon me and mine. But, how do things change if we’re all too afraid to talk about it?

First and foremost, I respect everyone’s right to free speech. I respect the right of a person express their opinions. Any opinions. The ones who speak out against people spewing hate, and even the people who are spewing the hate. Everyone has the right to express an opinion.

But where I run into a moral dilemma is when someone uses their right of free expression to make someone’s life a living hell. When you threaten to rape or kill someone because you don’t agree with them. Or because you think it’s funny. And since no one can stop you or do a damn thing about it, then so much the better.

One of the best things about the internet is the ability to be anyone you want. You can take on a whole new personality if you want. You can have the courage to say the things you wouldn’t normally say in real life. And there in lies the rub.

Suddenly people can say whatever they want because they don’t have to look anyone in the face when they do it. They can threaten death and rape and destruction of property and never have to see the fear in the eyes of the people they’re spewing their hatred at. They don’t feel bad about it because it doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s only words on a computer screen by someone (probably) miles away who (most likely) would never (usually) follow through on any threats (that you know of).  It’s letting off steam, it’s a little fun, and no one is actually getting hurt.

But the people making the threats seem to forget that there are real life people on the other end of those words. Somewhere there is a person who suddenly has their address appear online with messages about breaking into her home, or following her and raping her. Somewhere else is trying not to look worried walking their kids to the car that someone will make good on the threat and come after him with a baseball bat. There’s a teenager somewhere afraid to leave their house and afraid to tell their parents why.

And that’s supposed to be ok? Because it’s words on a computer it’s ok? Because someone said it on Twitter instead of to your face you’re not allowed to feel scared or worried? If someone says that they’re scared or worried they get blasted again. They’re told not to talk about it, not to engage or interact because it’s what the trolls want.

It seems like high school all over again to me. And honestly people, how many times did ignoring the bully and going about your business make the bully realize the error of their ways and walk away? Not that getting in the bully’s face worked any better – everyone just ends up battered and bruised this way. I don’t know that there is a good way to deal with it when it happens. Maybe the answer is for it not to happen in the first place.

I think most people would agree it is not good manners to threaten bodily harm of another human being, no matter how much you disagree with them. It’s just not polite. Maybe we should all start there. Let’s try to be a little more polite. If you see someone you know being stupid and impolite enough to threaten someone, call them on it. Ask them if they would say the same thing if their Mom or Grandmother or child was holding their hand and while they talked to the person face-to-face. If you can’t say it to someone’s face or in front of someone you respect, you probably shouldn’t be saying it.

So let’s start there, shall we? Let’s try to communicate a little better. Let’s try to be a little more polite and remember that words have meaning that there are real live human beings out there reading them. It’s not much, but maybe it could help.

Other Miss Communication Posts

A Few Thoughts Google+

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I may be a little late to the party, and I’m not big on doing reviews, but this is something a little different. This I see as potentially revolutionary for the way organizations share their stories and communicate with their audiences.

I recently joined Google+ and started exploring. I’m really liking how you can use circles to control information dissemination. I see a real use for this by organizations needing to get information and buy-in together before releasing it to a wider audience. The Hangout feature is going to give organizations a whole new way to interact with their audience (I’ve already shared article on Google+ about professors planning to use the feature to hold virtual office hours and study sessions with students).

I’m can’t wait to see how they integrate Google+ into Google Docs. It’s going to be huge for collaboration. It has the potential to change the workforce with constant and consistent contact for a distributed team. Distance learners could have much stronger support from classmates and teachers. It really could change the way business and learning are done.

I do worry a little that we’ll all be googlized. They’re doing great things and on the cutting edge. I just worry about people becoming to dependent on one tool. I hope that other technology organizations out there have seen where Google set the bar and are planning on ways to raise it themselves.

I have to say, it’s an amazing time to be alive, isn’t it? The things we can do today that we never even dreamed of are the same things our kids will think obsolete. Google+ is one more step into the future we didn’t dream of.

If you’d like to add me to your circles I’m Lorie E.G. Singer!