The hardest thing for any subject matter expert (an “SME” in business vernacular) to do is to explain his or her area of expertise in simple and clear ways. When we are “in” it, when we are living the topic every day, when we know a lot about a certain topic, it often can be really hard to distance ourselves from it and make it simple for others. When we are in it, it all seems important. And since we understand every nuance, natural human reaction is often that we want to explain that nuance.
But for people who don’t know as much about our topic as we do (which includes most people most of the time), they are usually far less interested in that nuance and those specific details. Most often, what is most valuable to the non-SME is to hear the high level, the wide angle version, and the most important or most relevant aspects of the topic. To be precise, they are interested in the things that are most important and most relevant to them.
In other words, when we are communicating at a high level, we are not in fact communicating what is most important to us. When we are communicating at a high level, what we are in fact doing is communicating what is likely to be most important to our audience, what they will think is most valuable.
Now, the concept of “value” is a movable feast. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, as the old saying goes. Just because you think it is important, does not mean that others will. And vice versa.
Our Latimer team spends a lot of time working with clients on how to speak more clearly and powerfully. And one of our most critical techniques we teach is to try to understand value from the perspective of other people in the conversation, and then speak to that value. Don’t speak to your sense of value unless you are sure that others in the room see the same value that you do.
Great communication requires lots of skills. But it also requires the emotional intelligence to understand what other people think and care about. We’re not advocating for pandering. We are advocating for demonstrations of respect and the empathy to consider what other people think.
At the heart of all great business communication is a simple concept… Respect for other people’s perspective.
Have a great day.
We believe that great communication skills change the world. We transform people and organizations of all sizes with simple, repeatable techniques, through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and asynchronous learning.
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