How do you efficiently share information? Do you send an email? Plan a meeting? Or organize an event? I ask communications specialist Frederik Imbo.
Welcome to our studio.
How do you share information efficiently?
Yes. To share information is easy, but efficiently? That’s more difficult. We bombard each other with emails, we send emails over and over again, or we go from meeting to meeting. But sometimes I ask myself, what the hell am I doing here in this meeting room? Why the hell are we sitting around the table? For those who do not know in what port they are steering for, no wind is favorable. So, it means that before you blurt out information, you must ask yourself several questions. What is the goal of my communication? What do I want to achieve? Do I want to inform someone? Possible. Do I want to deliberate? Is there an interaction needed? Do I want to raise awareness? Am I willing and wanting to convince you, or do I want to solve a problem? Do I want to get closer to you? Do I want to make acquaintance? Or maybe we have got a quarrel and maybe I want to make up for something. -Yes. So, all different goals that I possibly can achieve with my communication. If you forget to prepare yourself, you prepare yourself to be forgotten. Because sometimes we don’t think about what goal we want to achieve. So, several questions you need to ask yourself. First of all, Kevin, when I want to share information I must ask myself, who is Kevin. What is his prior knowledge? Does he know a lot about what I’m going to share? Is he a technical guy? Can I use jargon? Can I use terms? Does he see the bigger picture of the story? Have we met before or not? All things that I must take into account when I share information with you. Are you a crocodile or are you a swan, Kevin?
A crocodile or a swan?
I really don’t know.
It’s a metaphor of course. I have to reflect upon the fact, whether the other person is supporting my idea or not. A swan, do you know, these are the most loyal animals that are existing? Once a swan meets another swan, he will stay together for the rest of his life. He will never cheat and go with someone else. So, a swan is a metaphor for thinking, well, when I’ll share my information with that person this will be my point of view. Normally, that person will also support me. It will be completely different when I know, for example, that there are eight people around the table and that maybe eight of them are crocodiles. Do you think that a crocodile will be loyal to my idea?
No. What does he want?
He will eat it.
He will eat my idea. He will attack me and he just wants to crush my ideas and he will not support me. So, it’s important to think about this. Another thing, what you need to think on beforehand, is, what is my key message? What is the one thing I want people to remember? Einstein said a long time before, if you can’t explain something simple you haven’t understood it well enough. So, it means that you must be able to bring across your message in a very simple way. Well, to use a term that is more modern than in the time of Einstein, have to be brief and powerful. In what kind of medium do you think, 140 characters?
A tweet, yes. I do not mean literally that you have to send tweets everywhere. I mean that you have to be able, when you share information with someone, when you’re around a table that you do it in 140 characters approximately. Can be that you have one key message and several sub-key-messages of course. But be as short and brief and concrete as possible.
Let me tell you something about being concrete. There is a husband who comes late at home and his wife complains oh, you’re always late, you should work less, there’s more to life than just working. The man, the day after, arrives at home later than the previous day and his wife says well, you see, you don’t take me into account. I asked you to work less. The man says: hey, oh no, I just come from the fitness club. I subscribed me there because you asked me to work less. No, you misunderstood me. I meant that I wanted you to be at home more, to keep me more company. So, you see what happened here? The woman was absolutely not clear about what she really wanted. So, it’s key that you prepare yourself to be as concrete and specific as possible. And that you are using concrete terms. Instead of: we should think about the problem? No: hey guys, I have three problems. I would like to go through them and then afterwards I would like to hear your opinion. So, be concrete and specific, that will help the effectiveness of your communication.
Yes. Are there other means in making your message come over to the other like you actually mean it?
Good communications means, Kevin, that the other person, in my case you, the receiver understands exactly the same as I, as sender, intend. Well, we have this marvelous picture here of that guy that is shouting and that is giving you information. He’s overloading you with information. Well, actually, our advice is please stop informing people and start communication, enhanced interaction. Because there’s a difference between information and communication. There is interaction in communication. When you look at the word communication - we always give the same message there is a smaller word inside of the word communication. A word of three letters. Could you guess?
Uni. Yes, exactly. And the order of the letters in the word uni is?
U N I.
U N I. Very good. So, I must adapt my message to you. I must build interaction. For example, I could say, imagine this is a production scheme and I would say can you see what we’ll do in March? Can you see that Kevin? Can you see the amount of numbers we need to reach?
Yes, I can.
Can you imagine that a lot of people will not be very happy when they first will know that this is the number we have to reach?
Okay, so can I explain what are the actions we will take to make sure that people will be motivated? Do you see the difference? We are talking now for 20 seconds and I try to make a connection with you by asking you questions.
Our brain is hardwired different. When we receive information, our brain becomes lazy. It does nothing. While actually when I use interaction with you and ask you questions where you have to respond with a yes or a no, then the interaction will make that you will be much more alert to what I’m saying.
So ask questions, not only closed questions, also open questions. That will lead to more interaction.
And what about resistance, if you get resistance?
Resistance? Resistance necessarily has to be a problem. A kite only goes up against the wind and not with the wind. So use the resistance of the other person in a way that you listen to what he says. You really listen and you try to discover what is actually the need behind, what is his intention, what does he want. Because if you listen you get all that bunch of information. And only when you have listened well, you can use his resistance by then giving arguments that will help him to resolve the issue. By meeting his needs. I love it when people come up with, for example, resistance, and say: yes, but that will never work. Instead of saying: yes, it will work. I must ask you, why do you think it will not work and what do you need? And what do you need to make it work?
Ask questions. Listen to the other person. Take the U-turn. U-turn? How do you climb a very steep hill with a car?
With a lot of U-turns.
With a lot of U-turns. So this means that sometimes I need to go away from my initial goal and listen to you, and then I go again to my goal. Maybe you have another resistance or another contra-argument. Then I must go again in your direction and give you empathy. By saying: oh, I hear that you are concerned about the targets that we set here on the table, what exactly are you afraid of? So, by listening, by giving you empathy, I help you to be less resistant. And to be more open to listen to my communication, to my information, so that - that was our goal that our information is shared in an efficient manner.
Thank you very much, Frederik.
You’re so welcome.
And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.