Frickin’ Elephants Help Effective Communication

When it comes to good communication it’s not so much about sending the right message as it is getting the right response. The right message assumes you and the other person will respond in the same way. A person’s understanding shows up before you do, and that is the reality of the message you send. It’s not what you say; it’s what people hear. And, while you might not be able to control what people see or hear, you can do a better job trying to anticipate it.

I heard a story about a grandpa helping his four-year-old grandson learn to read. The boy pointed to a picture in a zoo book and said, “Look, Grandpa! It’s a frickin’ elephant.” The grandpa took a deep breath and asked, “What did you call it?”

His grandson repeated himself.

“It’s a frickin’ elephant, Grandpa! It says so on the picture!”

And, so it did. When the grandpa looked down at the picture, it read,

“A F R I C A N Elephant.”

It’s not what you say; It’s what people hear

When looking at your marketing materials it’s important to ask serious questions about the message that’s being portrayed to those that will see  them.  Here’s 4 quick pointer questions for you to consider.

  • Does this support or compete with the intended experience for your audience?
  • Does this marketing material help accomplish the desired objective or not?
  • Does it have potential to attract or repel?
  • Does it add to or take away credibility?

When it comes to your website or marketing material you only have 3 seconds to communicate that right message to your visitors, that’s less time than  it takes to read this sentence.

What’s your message and how is it being heard?

Do you think about what you might say will be taken by others and how it might affect them or do you just think about what you have to say and go and do it?

I wonder what open and candid feedback you might get if you were to show your communications (whether it be your website, newsletters to clients or internal messages) to others before sending them? Would the feedback you get back match that of the desired goal of the communication?

Is the communication you’re sending actually opening doors rather than closing them?

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