It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about sales, management, or even your personal life. Tonality and body language plays a huge role! And even then, you need to make sure you respond, not react.
I had a client recently who dealt with a management situation recently that illustrates this. He was working with two of his employees through a communication issue. He went to the first employee, and they shared what the other employee had said.
Then he went to the other employee, asked them what they said, and they responded with the exact same words!
Suddenly, my client remembered conversations we’d had surrounding body language and tonality. He asked a great follow up question.
“Did you say that to the other person the same way you just said that to me?”
“What do you mean?” she responded.
“The words line up, but how did you actually say it? How were you standing? What tonality did you use?”
There was a brief pause, followed by, “Oh...”
Realization had dawned!
Of course, awareness is only the first step. The next step is for both parties to be in 100% control of the conversation.
You may ask yourself, “How can both parties be in 100% control of the other person?”
Of course, you can’t control what someone else does. You can, however, be in 100% control of yourself.
You can have 100% control over what you say, how you say it, body language and tonality, but have absolutely no control over what someone else says or how they say it. However, you can control whether you react or respond.
If you act like a critical parent in those situations, you’re simply reacting. If someone makes you angry, you go into defensive mode. If someone hits you, you hit back.
Responding is more about taking a breath and asking yourself, “Okay, what did they really mean by that? Were they using that tone to make me angry?”
A lot of times in sales interactions, it’s amazing how many times the salesperson reacts to something the prospect does.
“We’ve heard bad things about your company.”
They react angrily, “What do you mean you’ve heard bad things about the company!?”
They blew it! An actual response would have been, “Sorry you’ve heard bad things. Would you be willing to share what you heard?” Or maybe, “Should we even continue talking?”
Then you’ve responded, not reacted. That’s where you have 100% control of the conversation.