Marketing podcast, PreneurCast, is for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
While Dom takes time out for a beer in the local beach bar, Pete talks about the importance of understanding context and framing when communicating with people
Pete talks to Dom about connecting to people and the importance of context
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Context and the Man With the Black Case
Pete Williams: Hello on this fine evening. How are you, sir?
Dom Goucher: Yeah, I am 25 yards from the beach, sitting in the bar.
Pete: Nice. Do you have a Corona in hand?
Dom: No, it’s coffee at the moment. I was going to have the beer after the call.
Pete: Fair enough.
Dom: So what’s been happening this week?
Pete: Just training which has been good, plenty of training. I had lunch with the Melbourne marketing elite on, it would have been Thursday, no Wednesday this week. Yes, it would have been Wednesday this week. I had lunch with a whole bunch of people, which was great. It was Ed Dale, Rob Somerville, Danny Batelic, Mike Rhodes, Steve Ovens, Dave Jenyns, myself and a couple of Ed’s mentee students as well. So it was a great little luncheon in the city. It was a good catch-up, good food, good conversation, and good people.
Dom: Wow. That was quite a crowd.
Pete: Yeah. It was quite funny. Like literally, half the people there were from my office now, given that Mike and Davey J and their team have moved in. It was kind of funny. We all sort of like shared a cab on the way back almost, well, I drove and I just gave them all a lift. That was kind of funny, but it was great. Good catch-up with everybody. I hadn’t seen Rob and Ed in a while. That was really good.
Dom: So I’m guessing it was a social call and no podcast, interviews, masterminds or any of that kind of stuff was done during the session.
Pete: No, I tried to start a food fight with Danny and Ed to get them back for their current rating in the iTunes Stores for their Dominiche podcast. It was a quite classy restaurant. Ed likes to dine fine, if you will. The food fight kind of ended before it started. But I was trying to fight for us.
Dom: Nice. I’m glad you’re sticking up for us over on that side. But don’t worry. Don’t worry, we’re a slow burn. Ed went for the kind of the quick hit by asking his list to do some ratings and stuff, but I think we’re a slow burn. We’re going for the quality, long-haul, content-delivery idea.
Pete: Well, were all about the quality here. We are absolutely all about the quality and that sort of stuff. But yes, we’ll build up a solid loyal base of listeners over time. It’s been going great so far. We’ve got some amazing feedback from emails and obviously, the iTunes feedback’s been great. But the email interaction has been awesome. I’m getting a few emails every week, which I’m really loving.
Pete: A couple of other podcasters, not Ed and Dan, but a few other podcasters, they say they’ve got big listener bases according FeedBurner but not a lot of interaction. So I’m very proud of our listener base. It’s obviously very interactive, which is great.
Dom: Cool. Alright. So last week and the week before, and the week before and I think even the week before, you mentioned that you were going to actually talk to us about context and framing.
Dom: Just now, I’m off the edge of my seat. I’m now hanging over the balcony with suspense on this one.
Pete: Alright. Well, let me begin to it. I’ve got a story to share. We’ll put this whole conversation of context into context. How’s that for a pun on a pun inside a bad joke? So let me start the story:
The young man awoke in darkness in a strange room in a strange city. The economy of motion he used as he went about preparing himself for the day ahead indicated that he was accustomed to awakening in unfamiliar rooms. The clothes he chose for the task ahead while comfortable, blue jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and a dark baseball cap, were very different from those he usually wore.
He may have laughed to himself as he dressed; thinking that even those who knew him best would not recognize him in this costume. That’s what it was, it was a costume. On this day, he wanted to fit in, to be inconspicuous, invisible even. The event that he was about to set into motion had been planned for weeks. He’d never done anything like this before and probably never would again. He may have even been slightly nervous at the prospect of what lay ahead. If he was nervous, he would have been amused at his own response.
As he prepared to leave the room, he might even check the contents of the small black case he will be taking with him. The people he would come into contact with on that day would have been amazed to know what lay inside the case. The case not so different from the briefcases many of them carried, but the content was worth more than they would earn in the lifetime of work. In fact, it was worth several million dollars. He was about to unleash his power on slightly more than one thousand unsuspecting inhabitants of Washington, D.C. and most of them would never have even know it.
As he left the hotel, he hailed a cab and asked the driver to drop him at a train station that was within walking distance of his final destination. He did not want to arrive in a taxi. He was going to take the train because he was seeking anonymity. Waiting is the word that best describes Washington, D.C., in the middle of January anyway. Washington is a city of stone built to impress, not to offer comfort. The Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the reflecting pool in other seasons are awe-inspiring, but this time of the year are merely cold and lifeless.
Today, like the half million inhabitants of this city appear to be waiting for spring to warm the granite and marble, and bring the city back to life. But that wouldn’t happen until the cherry trees begin to bloom during the first week of April. In the second week of January, with the holiday season over, the city appears to be in hibernation. You see, Washington is a city that doubles in size every work day morning and shrinks again every evening like a great ocean with a twice daily tide made up of people.
Most of those actually live in the city, perform the jobs that keep it running. They are the waiters, the waitresses, cab drivers, shop clerks, the firefighters and police, the nurses and the trash collectors; they are part of the city’s infrastructure. Many of the half million people who invade the city during rush hour are government employees. Most of them live in the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. Every morning and every evening, they clog the freeways and the surface streets, slowing traffic to a snail’s pace. A great many of those who participate in this daily pilgrimage soon decide to leave their cars at home and take the train into the city.
The L’Enfant Plaza metro station is among the busiest, if not the busiest commuter train hubs in Washington, D.C. The station is at the center of activity in the nation’s capital. Four of the five train lines converge in this station. But it’s not a destination, it’s a portal, a funnel, a collection and a distribution point through which thousands of city workers must pass every day. It’s intentionally impersonal and it was designed to be clean and efficient, not beautiful.
So let’s skip back to that Friday morning in January. At a few minutes past 7:30am, the young man entered one of the many commuter trains with his black case tucked under his arm. Dressed as he was, he blended in with the commuters. If any of the other riders that morning noticed the man at all, it probably would have been because he entered the Orange Line train at one stop and immediately exited at the next. They may have wondered fleetingly why he didn’t just walk.
At 7:51am, on Friday, January 12th, it was morning rush hour and business as usual. Most of those exiting the train at L’Enfant Plaza on that particular morning were on their way to work in the various US government offices that surrounded the station. As the passengers exited the train and rode the escalator up to the arcade level, those directly behind him may have registered a moment of annoyance when he stopped in front of them forcing them to veer from the straight line they have been walking.
The young man chose a spot near the wide glass exit doors that lead directly into the shopping mall and placing the black case carefully at the feet, opened it and removed his most prized possession. Some may have been momentarily curious or amused when this unassuming young man lifted an old violin from the case and began to play. He even threw a handful of change into the open case as seed money. Just another street musician, they may have thought to themselves. This city seemed to be full of them these days.
Most of the busy commuters would have not registered his presence at all. Had they known they may have been surprised to find that after playing for 43 minutes the young man had amassed a huge sum of $32 in change. Ok, so let’s now view this scene again. But this time, let’s look at it through the always perfect context lens of hindsight, a little bit more about what actually happened. Those who actually noticed this young man, the musician, he was playing an old violin and they’d be correct probably more so than they could have ever imagined.
To be precise, the violin was 296 years old, a Stradivarius, crafted in 1713. The young violinist giving the apparently impromptu performance in the metro station could never have afforded such instrument on the $44.65/hour he averaged that morning. But fortunately for him and the world, Joshua Bell the violinist, playing the metro station that morning is accustomed to earning $1,000 a minute for his regular performances. Even so, he would have had to sell his own Stradivarius to afford the reported $3.5 million he paid for the instrument he was playing that day.
So what could possibly entice Joshua Bell, the undisputed sweetheart of the classical set, to play his Stradivarius violin for the early morning commuters in Washington, D.C.’s metro station? First, you have to understand there was nothing impromptu about this performance. He did not wake up and say, “I think I would treat the office workers to a free concert this morning.” Although if you knew him, you might believe he’d actually do that. But three days before his performance at the metro station, Bell played to a packed house at Boston’s Symphony Hall where just average seats went for a hundred bucks.
Tall, good-looking and single, Joshua David Bell has come a long way from his birthplace in Bloomington, Indiana. You might describe him as a rock star of classical music. Unlike many mediocre performers, his blazing talent has not robbed him of his humility or of his humanity. Bell describes the word ‘genius,’ at least when applied to him and only tolerates the term ‘prodigy’ when used in the past tense even though he was plucking tunes from rubber bands stretched across the dresser drawer at four years of age.
The metro concert was proposed to Bell by the prestigious newspaper, The Washington Post, shortly before Christmas that year. The idea was to see how many people would respond to great music if they encountered it in an unsuspecting setting. “A stunt?” Bell asked, The Washington Post agreed that it could be considered a stunt. “Sounds like fun,” Bell responded. Now on that morning, that Friday morning, only one person out of the 1,097 passersby recognized Joshua Bell.
Let’s call her SF. Although SF admittedly doesn’t know a lot of that classical music, she attended a free concert Bell had given at the Library of Congress just three weeks earlier. SF said that she had no idea what the heck was going on but she wasn’t about to miss it. She chose a spot 10 meters in front of Bell and stood there transfixed with a big grin on her face for the next 10 minutes. Unfortunately, she showed up near the end of his performance. “It was the most astonishing thing I have ever seen in Washington.” SF said.
“Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour and people were not stopping, not even looking at him and some are flipping quarters at him. Quarters. I wouldn’t do that to anybody. I was thinking, Oh my gosh, what kind of city do I live in that this could happen?” But had she not attended the concert three weeks before, she too probably would have just passed by barely registering his presence.
That’s the story that was originally, not that exact story but that exact thing happened. The Washington Post newspaper did a stunt, as Joshua Bell referred to it as, to see what happens when the musician, the instrument and the music is exactly the same but the context in which the city of Washington would see it in would change the reactions of people and what happened. It’s a great article that goes into a lot more depth of what happened. It was all filmed by hidden cameras and they really dissect exactly what people did and how they reacted, and we’ll link to that in the show notes.
There’s also some video too, which is really cool, to sit and watch actually him playing and the people moving around and stuff. It’s a story that I really, really love because it just talks about or sets up a great conversation for context. This guy gets paid $1,000 a minute typically when he plays his $3.5 million violin, which is just ridiculous. He hasn’t changed, the violin hasn’t changed. It probably has only gotten more valuable, and the music would be exactly the same.
Yes, the acoustics might have not have been as great as the Boston Symphony, but it’s interesting to say that in the context of knowing who he is, people would pay $100 minimum to see him play. This is US dollars a few years ago, so it’s actually worth some currency at that time. But in today’s world or in this world on that particular day, on that January, people completely ignored him and just walked passed him like he was anybody else, didn’t give him the time because the context around him wasn’t right. And I just find that really interesting, and just the context in general obviously is something that really intrigues me.
Dom: Wow. What a story. I kind of wished I had a beer now instead of a coffee.
Pete: That’s interesting because just the whole context of a performance makes the performance so much different. And look, in the music world, so many people go to a concert but they’re not really going for the music anymore, they’re going for everything around that. The context of what a concert is, is no longer about the music anymore. Somehow, the conversation we have about context is very important, I think, for people to really grasp and understand and just be aware that the context is so important when they’re doing stuff in their life. We can kind of talk about some examples in a moment if you’d like.
Dom: Yeah, I’m interested to get your thoughts on how this maps back to business and the other topics. This came up because we were talking about making proposals, writing proposals and giving them to people or approaching people. It came up in the JV and an affiliate podcast we did a few weeks ago. So I’m definitely interested in how this maps.
Although you’re right, context is everything. One of the things I heard said a long time ago by an internet marketer was, “However good you think you are in this industry or whatever else, you set foot outside your front door and say ‘internet marketing’ to somebody, you’re never going to find an average person on the street who even knows what you’re talking about.” Be aware that it’s massively important. Context is massively important to whatever you do.
Pete: Yeah. If you carry it into the root level of product creation, think about how much you’re willing to pay for a book. Most people won’t pay more than $20 for a book. And with the advent of the iTunes Bookstore and the Kindle, most people aren’t willing to pay $10 for a digital book which is fair enough. That’s the marketplace, that’s the market expectations. When you show someone a book, they obviously have a pre-determined price in mind. They just have this context of what that should be worth.
But then if you actually take that book and if you’re hopefully doing it right and putting more content involved, and you turn it into a three-ring binder type product and you do an audio version of it, get some DVDs and some CDs; and people will sign up for that for two, three or four grand or $500 whatever price point it is. That information, if it’s good, it should be worth that. Because if someone implements it and makes some money back, then all the power to you. Charge that price.
I think it’s justified if you are selling high-priced information products that you give as a huge value and lets you implement the stuff, they make more money back. But the context has changed. The frame in which the information is presented has changed. It means you can actually justifiably charge more for that and people won’t have that pre-conceived concept of what it’s worth. On the proposal stuff we spoke about, really what a marketer’s job to a certain extent is to establish context or change the frame around something.
Rather than just making your proposal for, I think the analogy was a roof tiling or something like that, if you’re a roof tiler or teaching music one-on-one, or you’re a triathlon coach, whatever it might be; you really want to change the context and the frame in which people look at your service and the solution you offer from just being about the parts. The telco example I gave was that most people in our space historically, and still do today, make it all about the parts and pieces of plastic and the wiring.
It makes people shop on price. And it’s really important to change that context a little bit and say, “Look, it’s more than just pieces of plastic. The context is different. It’s about the solution. It’s about the support.” And you do that by using language in the conversations, and the sales pitches, and the meeting, but also in the proposals that you do. You create a proposal that changes the context and the frame in which people are making the decision, and I think that’s really important.
Dom: I’m really glad that you kind of moved from context into framing. You and I have talked about context and framing in the past, independent of the podcast. And it was something that I’d never labeled framing but it was something that I was aware of. The book example is excellent. It’s really a fantastic example, as you say, that people go online now and they can go to the Kindle Store. And on average they expect to pay $9.99 or $10, somewhere around there. They expect to pay $10 because that information in the Kindle Store has been commoditized.
In the same way, even, if you think about it, that Joshua Bell was kind of commoditized by being seen as just another busker in that context. In the context of the subway station, somebody playing on the side of the subway station is seen automatically as a busker. Unless they really stand out or they’re recognized for something else, then that’s what’s going to happen. And to really just extend that, if somebody had put a sign over his head with a photo of his concert poster or whatever, “This is Joshua Bell…” That would have been enough to change that context…
Pete: With a little bit of marketing.
Dom: A little bit of marketing. And so, moving on from there to the book, just slapping the book up into the Kindle Store, you’re in the context of the Kindle Store. People have an expectation and a context. As you were saying, you need to break them out of that by framing. And framing is the real interest to me – how we get the people to recognize the value in our products or our services, which is how the conversation between you and I started. How you get people to realize that you’re not just another X, you’re not just another roof tiler, you’re just not another music teacher, it’s not just another eBook; but it’s something that has value. That’s where framing comes in. Yeah?
Pete: Absolutely. That’s what marketing is, really. It’s about telling a story, as what Seth Godin calls it. If you studied NLP, as a language and a communication tool set, they talk about framing quite a bit, about changing the frame or something to help people understand what you’re trying to get to. Trying to sum up how to frame something correctly is more than a podcast; it’s a series of workshops, it’s a lifetime of work, it’s a university degree, it’s doctorates. That is just marketing.
It’s working out how you can change the way people perceive your product, your solution, and your service in a way that helps you increase the conversation rate, increase the sale point, the value of the price point, and increase the evangelism that you can get in your product. Think of Apple as a way. They’ve created a cult because they’ve framed their products as more than just pieces of plastic and some wiring.
There’s a whole story and experience around that because they’ve framed it. They framed that whole Mac versus PC thing. They really deliberately created that context that you’re either a Mac person or a PC person. So when you become a Mac person, it’s me against the world; it’s me against everyone else. My side is good and your side is bad. It creates that evangelism-type atmosphere that means you’re going to go out and talk to people. And they created that framework by the ad series.
Overtime, they built up that. Guy Kawasaki spoke about it years ago at a presentation or a recording that I heard when I was about 18, I think it was, from the Million Dollar Round Table. An awesome, an awesome presentation. It basically was a pre-cursor to The Art of the Start and a couple of the early books. He talks about that he was really focused on creating evangelism for the Mac. It’s hard to decipher exactly how to frame something. I know you and I had a conversation about framing and stuff when you are having some conversations with some clients.
Dom: To me, I agree with you completely that the study of how you do this, becoming an expert in doing this. It’s a skill all in and of itself. There are people that that’s all that they do. Copywriters, high-level marketing consultants, business consultants, that’s what they do. They studied their entire lives to do it. Have we got some tips and little ideas that people can do? For me, the one that stood out, you actually mentioned it earlier on, just identifying the benefits fitting your product or your service into the vision of the client’s future seems to me a bit a way of framing this.
You’re telco example, listing the fact that you’ll get two XY-47 handsets and three, I don’t know, doohickey what-nots and so on and so on, isn’t going to excite anybody. Let’s use a Guy Kawasaki word: it’s not to enchant anybody. And it’s certainly not going to speak to them and tell them why they should choose your service above anyone else’s. But by listing the benefits of having these things or even listing the extra features of that particular handset that makes it better than somebody else’s handset, those things surely are helping to frame that service.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s all about trying to do the best job you can at not making your product a commodity. This is the interesting thing, which is a whole another conversation about the growth of Groupon and all these daily deal sites. People are basically making their product commodities because they’re just going back to, ‘it’s all about price.’ And I’d love to see the retention rates and their return rates on some of these businesses who are going into these places like Groupon to get a new wave of customers into their actual restaurant, or massage center, or waxing place, or whatever it might be.
What is the retention rate of those types of clients coming back to you? If you’re doing that Groupon thing as a loss leader, you’re basically making your product a commodity, it’s all about price. And people who go to those Groupon places go there to buy cheap stuff, not so on a good experience. They’re never going to get back to you because they’re going to buy the next restaurant deal that comes up. And it’s not really direct correlations of what we’re talking about, but you’re deliberately putting yourself into a different commodity, into a different context.
You want to get yourself out of those contexts and take it away from price. So you want to make it so you’re getting more than just these bits of plastic, you’re getting more than a roof that won’t leak, you’re getting more than just a massage, whatever it might be. That last one could be taken really bad, getting more than just a massage. Just in terms of context, to bring it back a little bit. Context is important in communication as well.
Like if you’re using Elance or oDesk and trying to get one-off jobs done, it’s really important to actually communicate to those people the context of what you’re asking them to do. If you’re asking them to write some articles, for example, you want to tell them, “These articles are going on my blog to be read by people. Here is the blog.” Or, “I want you to do a script for my website that will do this and the reason for doing this is this. This is the context of the whole project.” The whole idea of maybe you want to get them to create a pop-up that pops up on your blog when someone lands on your site.
So obviously, there are WordPress plug-ins and stuff like that. People don’t have to email me, I know that sort of stuff. I’m just giving you an example. You might also want to code that. But you say, “I want someone to code a piece a script that will work on my website that when someone lands on the page after five seconds a lightbox will pop up with an opt in box from my AWeber email opt in.” Yeah, great. But the context should be, “I want that because I’m getting a lot of traffic to this site over the next couple of weeks and I want to make sure I capture those people as soon as they land on the site.
So I get their email address to my opt-in list so I can market to them later.” It might be pretty obvious to you, but it just puts the whole thing in context. And that developer might be able to give you some better advice. They might be able to actually go, “Oh, hang on. There’s something very pretty similar or here’s a suggestion.” Because they know the context in which they’re coding, the context in which they’re doing something, and I think that’s really important.
If one person has a job in that process, you’re building up your outsourcing team, and the whole process is going to be: you want one person to do keyword research using Market Samurai; you want the next person to write the article; you want the next person to use Article Samurai, the new software by Eugene and the boys over there at Samurai. And then next thing is to then take that article and syndicate it using something like TrafficGrab, James Schramko’s product. You could easily tell each person just their only one job for that particular task.
“When you see something in this Dropbox folder, go and grab it and do this with it.” And that’s fine. But if you give them the context of the entire process, it’s going to give them better understanding of what their job is. It gives them more job satisfaction, job understanding. If they have to decipher things because they’re not quite clear of the actual step, they’re going to actually look at it in the context of your whole project and understand better what they’re meant to be doing so they can stop asking you questions because they can make educated decisions based on the right context. So that’s where context is important as well, in communicating to your teams so they’ll actually understand where they’re going.
Dom: That’s an excellent point to get it back to context and to look at it from a different aspect. That whole team-building, team communication thing is really important.
Pete: Did I change the context of the podcast about context?
Dom: No actually, you didn’t.
Dom: You may have reframed the information.
Pete: Yeah. Alright. Sorry.
Dom: Just a break though for a second. I just want to point out one of the benefits of recording in the bar is that one of the very beautiful members of staff here has bought me a beer to the table while I was recording.
Dom: So now I have the view, I have the beer and I have a good conversation.
Pete: Alright. I reckon what have to do is take a snapshot of this right now and put it in the show notes.
Dom: You know what? I’m going to do that.
Pete: Awesome. Also, could you take a photo with the lovely member of staff?
Dom: I’d have to ask permission. They’re a little bit shy, strangely enough in this particular bar.
Pete: Fair enough.
Dom: But we’ll give it a go. We’ll give it a go.
Pete: So you’re not in that type of bar where they’re not shy?
Dom: Absolutely not. But yeah, the context information for the team. A number of people who talk about outsourcing including yourself, talk about building a team rather than just outsourcing. And when you’re building a team, you’re looking for people to grow their knowledge about your business to be able to become more a part of your business. And they can only do that if you provide them with the information. If you treat them as isolated black box that just do things when asked, then they’re never going to be able to do that. But if you can give them the context, then one, it will help them perform that task better.
But as you say, you’re an excellent example, and I know this is true of myself; if a client comes to me and gives me the context of the video that they want producing, the sales video or the information product, or the podcast or whatever it is, then I can give them the benefit of my experience. For example, somebody might come to me and say, “Hey, I want this audio recording edited.” Ok, fine. But if they come to me and say, “It’s going to be a podcast.” As you know, that’s a massive difference. Because suddenly it’s gone from an MP3 file, which as well is going to maybe be played on the website, maybe not, don’t know.
But as a podcast, there’s a lot more to it and I can add value by adding the show graphic into the file, adding the show notes, actually embedding those into the file itself. So if that file gets moved around and played outside of iTunes, then it’s got more information. Maybe they need help with the feed or getting it on the iTunes Store or whatever it is. But without that context information, I’m just going to do what I’m asked.
Pete: That was so much more coherent than my example. I like it.
Dom: No, no. Yours was a good example too. But I’m more of the service provider. I can speak more to that. You are the person that asks for the service and sees the benefit of giving the context. And it’s good that we are coming at it from different sides.
Pete: Absolutely, absolutely. Even just the use of the language helps change things. Like when you’re having a conversation with someone, it’s really important to think about the context in which they’re talking about something. It’s just a general human communication thing really, whether it’s an argument or whatever it might be. It’s just really important to see what the context is before you go off the hook and make your own decisions, understanding, or assumptions.
What’s their context? How are they thinking about this? How are they coming at this particular issue, conversation, problem, solution or whatever it might be? What is their context: their experience of the situation, their entire experience? What else is going on in their lives? It’s really interesting.
Dom: Yeah. From a business point of view, it’s the most basic of basics. But if you are designing an information product or writing a blog post, if you don’t understand your audience, the context in which they are at right now in their experience levels, then you can’t address their needs.
Pete: Exactly. You have to understand your target market because that’s the context in which they’re devouring your content, it should dictate how you create your content. The context in which people consume your content should dictate the way you create your content. There’s a quote.
Dom: Ooh, now you see, you’ve stepped over a line there. You’ve stepped into my world and I don’t agree with you.
Pete: Oh, ok.
Dom: Are you ready for this one?
Pete: Bring it on.
Dom: I think I know what you’re trying to say which is, where that person is in their experience, you need to speak to them where they are.
Dom: But quite literally, and this is absolutely a topic for another conversation and this is a mistake a lot of people make, not you because we’ve talked about this, but what a lot of people do is go, “You know what? I’m going to do this. I’m going to make this a podcast. I’m going to make this a video recording. I’m going to do whatever.” And you’re going to throw it out, “and my audience will like this.” In reality, what is happening now is that people are consuming our information in so many different formats from so many different places.
Like right now, I’m in a bar by the sea. I’m not in my office. I don’t have my 20-X inch IMAX screen, and I’m not on a full-speed connection. I’m borrowing a Wi-Fi. I might not want to see a full-screen HD video. I might want an audio file on my iPod while I’m cycling like you do.
Pete: True. Four and a half hours in the hills tomorrow at 6am.
Dom: And yet we still think you’re sane.
Pete: It’s alright.
Dom: But as I said, this is a conversation for another time. It is very important that it’s about understanding where these people are, what they understand, what they know, and making sure that everybody knows what the conversation is about. That’s context. That’s one kind of context. But actually trying to push somebody into a context or only providing something in that context could cause you problems.
Pete: True. Very true. We should do another episode in the future about consumption, how people consume stuff and how to create content that’s consumption-friendly. That’s probably a whole another episode. But we probably should wrap this up soon. I’d love to leave people with a bit of an actionable thing that I find really helpful when I communicate with people, just trying to just change their context a little bit. If you ever have a disgruntled client or a customer, or having one of those tough conversations, something that’s worked well for me over time is using a simple statement.
It’s such a simple statement. It’s not really NLP. It could be NLP, I don’t really know. I’ve never done any official NLP stuff. I’ve read a couple of books but I haven’t really done a master practitioner, which is what they call when you get trained. It’s just using the simple phase ‘as I’m sure you’d appreciate.’ Like so many people come into an argument, you’re going at it like two bulls head to head. And they’ve got their context and they are looking at you directly, and you’re looking at them with your context. And to try and get the other person to see it through your context is often hard.
“You’re not understanding me. You don’t get where I’m coming from. You don’t know what I mean.” A simple thing I always do is I’ll make a statement and then just say, “as I’m sure you’d appreciate if you’re in a similar position,” or, “As I’m sure you’d appreciate from my perspective, this is this.” And that one little sentence I found, time and time again, makes people go, “Ok.” Just subconsciously, just quickly, they’ll look at it from your context, from your point of view, from your side. And it helps start to break down the barriers and open an effective dialogue. So I thought I’d just share that because that’s something that I found very helpful, as I’m sure you’d appreciate.
Dom: That’s an excellent tip. I’m not a great fan of that kind of thing, of the carefully chosen phrases, mainly because I come from a corporate background and we used to have a great deal of fun with the suits who used to have their little phrases. So I’m a little bit allergic to them. But I do like that one because I don’t think it’s false. I think it’s a genuine thing to say.
You’re actually genuinely asking somebody to take your perspective, to view things from your point of view, to just stop being totally in their world for just a second and look at it from your side. So it’s a very good way of saying it and it also doesn’t sound like corporate wonkiness, which is always a bonus as I’m sure you’d appreciate.
Pete: Touché. See you next week.
Dom: See you, buddy
Pearls Before Breakfast – Washington Post article mentioned by Pete
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