"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Courtship of the Masses

"You can have brilliant idea, but if you can't get those ideas across, they don't do anybody any good." - Lee Iacocca

From the archives of psychological literature we further our understanding of human nature. Even though we know a tremendous amount about human behavior - how to change, how to influence, how to become; we seldom make complete use of such information. What's even more difficult is communicating the vast amount of knowledge we have of psychology to others for their practical use. This dilemma is the proverbial Gordian Knot that must be cut with effective communication.

Any idea, any information, and any solution for that matter is worthless unless properly communicated in an understandable format to our audience. Whether we're dealing with a client in business, or constituency as a politician, a teacher to a student, or a parent to a child; we must acknowledge and effectively deal with this problem. An effective communicator is first and foremost adaptable.

That is, he/she able to find common ground with whomever they communicate with. For example, the most effective way to build rapport and communicate with a child would not be to act professional and proper. The best way would be to play the games they play. The effective communicator can enter the child's world and play whatever a child plays.

From this example we can see that the limiting factor in being able to communicate effectively is one's ability to enter another's world. To learn the "reality" they inhabit, and to be curious and interested in learning more about it. Too often, our laziness forces us to try to impose our reality on others. This is by far the worst way to effectively communicate, and is a sign of a limited communicator.

By definition an effective communicator is versatile, and thus is supposed to be the most flexible in his/her ability to communicate. Legendary psychotherapists of modern times such as Fritz Perls, Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir, Richard Bandler, John Grinder, and Anthony Robbins all share this flexibility in common. A common definition associated with "pathological" individuals is the inability to see outside their own reality. In essence, the extreme form of this inability to see other people's maps of reality is thought of as pathological. In fact, Timothy Leary's model of Interpersonal Dynamics is based on such a principle, and has been used widely as a psychometric.

A recent sales book I read dismissed the idea of trying to find commonality and to enter into the world of the buyer. Though it might work effectively for some, that does not mean it is the most effective. And based on boatloads of research from business schools, psychology departments, and optimal sales forces, the consensus stand on the value of increasing adaptability and using it to enter the world of our audience. I caution, however, that to enter does not mean to mislead, or to become a copycat. It means to surrender your rigid views for moments in time to expand your awareness of others, and thus be able to understand and provide value to those you wish to engage with. Ultimately the end result will be the ability to effectively sell your product, service, idea, reform, or what have you.

Angel Armendariz

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