Wednesday May 29, 2019 0 comments
By Ariana Friedlander
One of the frustrations I often hear from entrepreneurs and innovators (as well as leaders) is that people don't understand their ideas. And when a potential customer or key partner does not understand your idea, they are definitely not going to engage in nor buy the solution.
One entrepreneur shared, "I have been struggling to...clearly explain the value of my work to potential clients."
Another explained, "When I present the tools to customers and strategic partners, they are either underwhelmed--thinking it's too simplistic or overwhelmed, calling it too complex. I can't seem to find the sweet spot where I communicate both the complexity and simplicity of this system."
Not being understood is incredibly frustrating and when I ask entrepreneurs and leaders what they do about it their answer is almost always trying different ways to convey their point. Unfortunately, creating new powerpoint slides, changing your pitch or updating the language on your website is the wrong first step for shifting the dynamics.
One of the things we talk about in Conversational Intelligence is push-versus-pull communication. Forcing our ideas onto others is pushing them to see our point of view. This is what entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders are doing when they fixate on their presenting, tweaking how they're talking about their product or solution based on their own thinking alone.
Push conversations shut people down because there's a lack of connection and trust built. In pull conversations you're pulling out their needs, problems and aspirations by connecting with them first. Then, note the language their using and mirror that back to them as part of your product offering. Pull conversations involve more listening than speaking.
So, whether you're an entrepreneur, an innovator, a leader or an employee who’s tired of others not understanding you, take a step back. Stop talking and start listening. The best way to advocate for your idea is through inquiry.
This is the perfect opportunity to practice two Conversational Intelligence essentials, 1) Asking Questions for Which You Have No Answer and 2) Listening to Connect. Draft a list of open-ended questions in advance of your next meeting or networking event. Select a few questions that you feel the most curious about and enable you to gain insights about their perspective.
Then, as you are asking questions in conversation, Listen to Connect, not judge, confirm or reject. Listening to Connect can profoundly change the dynamics of your conversations. Instead of listening to respond or critique or feed your ego, you're listening deeply to understand the perspective, feelings and experiences of your conversational partner as though you are standing under their reality with them.
This approach has a number of benefits. First, these practices enable you to connect and build trust. Second, you gain incredibly valuable insights about the needs, pains, aspirations and language you may use to demonstrate how your idea will fit into their reality. In time, pull conversations catalyze a shift from people not understanding to being your biggest advocate and supporter.
Of course, this does take time. One of the biggest reasons entrepreneurs and innovators are quick to engage in push conversations is because time is money. Ironically, push conversations cost more in the long run (as miscommunication always does).
You could keep pushing your ideas to no avail or you could invest upfront time now Asking Questions for Which You Have No Answer and Listening to Connect so you can save save money and time in the long run.