If you have attended at least one communication training course, then you must have heard about the research carried out by Albert Mehrabian where he analyses the various components of vocal messages and provides the percentages which contribute to their understanding:
- verbal aspect (the words we use) communicates 7%
- vocal aspect (volume, tone, rhythm) communicates 38%
- visual aspect (body movements, facial expressions, look, …) communicates 55%
So why are we dedicating an article to words? Because this 7% isn’t negligible, in fact it is very important.
I like to consider the relationship between words and the message they create as the one between yeast and a cake: 12gr of yeast transform 300gr of flour, 3 eggs, 300gr of sugar, 125gr of cream into a lovely cake, soft and tasty.
It is important to pay attention and to carefully choose the words we use in our relationships, not only for what they allow us to communicate to others, but also for what they generate within ourselves.
This is all the more true when the aim of our communication is selling and we need to convey trust, confidence and enthusiasm to our potential clients.
When we have to buy something we often seem to be wearing a suit of armour which we manage to take off only if we can trust our interlocutor.
“Can I steal you for 2 minutes?”, “I think you are wrong”, “This is a problem”.
Our aim is to convey positive images and to recall beneficial emotions, and this is possible if we use the appropriate vocabulary:
“is it a good moment for you?”, I understand your requirement …”, “let’s see how we can solve your situation together”.
We can stimulate the clients’ interest and encourage their trust by using positive words which show we are willing to help them with their choice.
Sometimes clients are insecure and not so confident about their purchases. Through our attitude and the words we choose we can convey confidence. However in our daily lives we sometimes find salespeople who do exactly the opposite: some time ago I went into a shop with a friend of mine. She was looking for two action figures inspired by a tv series for her children, specifically a green one and a blue one. When we asked for the specific colours the shop keeper answered:
“UNFORTUNATELY I have only two left, a yellow one and a red one”.
We obviously decided to go and look in another shop, with the result that the first seller lost the sale. Our question is “What could he have done differently to prevent us from walking away?” He could have said something like:
“YOU’RE LUCKY, I still have two, they have practically sold out; I have a yellow one and a red one…which one would you like?”
I’m sure my friend would have taken the opportunity to buy them both, and would have told her children how lucky they had been to find the last two. The result would have been satisfactory for everybody: a happy seller, delighted children and a relaxed mummy!
Another important element which conveys confidence is the correct use of tenses. PRESENT tense is definitely better than CONDITIONAL, which is used by nature to describe uncertain things. A sentence like “I could show you this model” … (either you show me or you don’t) can be replaced with “I have this model here” or “this model meets your requirements”. The answer to a question like “Anything you’d like to try on?” … will probably be “no, I haven’t got time”; however with a more confident question like “let’s try it on and see if it looks good on you” there are more chances of receiving a positive answer such as “of course!”.
Our words have to express enthusiasm and the idea that we have the right product/service for our clients. How do we achieve this? By developing our vocabulary with positive words. Our brain can only process affirmative clauses, i.e. the “not” is filtered at a subconscious level: in the event of a negative clause our mind conceives what is being said, then has to forget it. The receptionist who guaranteed that my room “wasn’t noisy“ has in fact scared me (with the idea of a sleepless night, due to the noise of speeding cars and voices coming from the corridor). If only she had said “Mrs Alessandri, we have reserved a very quiet room for you” … what a relief it would have been!
In conclusion the main ingredient for any successful verbal communication is being aware of the words we use. However very often we tend to use terms and phrases we have absorbed passively from those around us – colleagues or clients – without really thinking about their real efficacy.
Increased awareness would mean less people opening their phone calls with an apparently kind phrase as “sorry to disturb you” … hoping the recipients won’t answer “actually yes, I’m busy right now”, and – in case they do – continuing with an uncaring “I’m just calling to say…”
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Start today, insert some positive words in your vocabulary (for example good, solution, immediately, …) and eliminate killer phrases containing conditionals or words as problem and disturb: this exercise will help you be more careful and effective with your sales.
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Let’s be responsible for our Actions, and therefore also for our interActions.
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As Nanni Moretti said in one of his films, “if you speak badly, then you think badly and you live badly!”. In other words the quality of our words has an influence on the quality of our thoughts and actions. In the My Passodue area you will find an exercise which can help you improve your language, therefore achieving a better connection with your clients and interlocutors.
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