I said, ‘Do you speak-a my language?’
Almost every Australian can respond with the next line in the song that goes:
‘He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich’.
Do you speak the language of business? If so, which dialect? More importantly, are you understood clearly by your audience?
I was in Paris with two broken sentences of terrible French. I saw a food vendor and developed a craving for a ham-and-cheese croissant.
I soon learned that no matter how loud I said ‘ham’, the other person in the dialogue didn’t comprehend: I wasn’t getting through. (This is also an important lesson for raising teenagers!)
I then began a game of charades where I grunted and squealed like pig and slapped my backside until the lights came on:
‘Ah monsieur; Jampon!’
I next pointed to the moon. No response. Perhaps the French don’t think of it as green cheese.
So, mooing like a cow, I got the vendor to point to a bottle of milk. Then I pointed to a knife and made a slicing motion. Ding!
‘Ah monsieur; fromage!’
This scene shows what can happen when two subject-matter experts from opposing sides try to create a coherent dialogue.
In business this can be catastrophic. In this case, the vendor was expert in French while I was proficient in English.
Turning up the volume didn’t resolve the situation, so I changed the communication manner with funny but effective results. (I got my croissant.)
How do we communicate in business? Are we focused on tax, compliance, profits, inventory, HR, customer retention, market penetration, cost reduction or risk mitigation?
What language do we use?
We use words (and wild gesticulations at times) to communicate information (an idea or concept). Communication is two way (at least, it ought to be) and it should include a confirmation that what’s understood is what we wanted to get across.
A picture paints 1000 words. Had there been a picture of a ham-and-cheese croissant, I could’ve pointed to it and held up a finger to indicate I wanted one. The whole transaction would’ve been far less of a spectacle. Common language/understanding at work.
In business, endless pages of reports that look like Excel can confuse the business owner and these can sometimes look just like ants walking up a page. How do you explain EBIT and corporate valuations to a business owner who’s never learned to read a financial statement?
If we learn to change complex data into simple charts that show the business owner where profits are coming from and where expenses are going, you can save a lot of gesticulation, raised volume, misunderstanding, frustration AND COST!
By analysing a customer’s spending in an instant, the owner can gauge whether this customer is in category:
- A: (love them, bend over backwards and provide exceptional service, hold on to at all costs).
- B: (pretty good, could become an A with nurturing).
- D: (always complaining or asking for discounts, late to pay, give to your competitor).
By having this information available in some sort of known scorecard or picture, NOW this information becomes truly valuable.
How can you provide more value to your customers with simplified communication?