Game, Set and Match: Powerful Communication Key To Profitable Growth

In tennis, serving first is  considered an advantage to apply your skill, power and judgement to outwit your opponent and win the set.  In business, communicating first with skill, power and judgement is often seen by some people as intrusive or uncomfortable and performed by a great many people poorly. Why is that so? They choose to serve softly (email reliance), apply poor judgement about the other party’s best interests (ignore or fail to find the other party’s priorities) or do their level best to opt out of serving first (lose valuable time waiting for the phone to ring) because there is an underlying fear or lack of skills that undermines their effectiveness? 

I find there are 4 common causes and effects:

  1. A fear of rejection. (reluctance to take prudent risks, an eternity to bounce back from defeats, takes defeat personally, counseling others to be careful)
  2. A fear of upsetting someone that might have bigger ramifications. (the perceived risks are overblown and the rewards are underplayed. There is little visible evidence to rationalise the perceived, actual and catastrophic risk of doing something.) On a small number of occasions this fear is legitimate and reasonable, the actual risk is potentially serious or catastrophic to the ongoing relationship.
  3. Poor “self-worth”. Highly intelligent, experienced managers and executives, whose success masquerades a lack of self-confidence in their own abilities, accomplishments and as a person of interest to others. (Neglect to pick up the phone, revert to email or LinkedIn messages that reveal little about their true feelings, the recipient senses a lack of confidence, email and other messages largely ignored)
  4. Weak language skills. They have a great concept, are in love with the methodology but are largely ineffective in accelerating the conversation to the conceptual agreement stage (promising conversations rarely turn into cash)

All of these behaviours can be dramatically improved. It requires client-facing people, who are cogniscant about their own behaviour, honest about their own performance and willing to take immediate action to achieve impressive personal improvement. It also requires, leaders who hold themselves and their subordinates accountable for those same qualities and constantly strive to create an environment in which open and honest communication is encouraged. It is ludicrous to assess sales and marketing people on the number of calls made or emails sent. The only metrics that matter are the results that arise from the communication and the number of times the right behaviour is displayed by the individual.

Aside from the bio mechanics and ball toss, tennis is largely a mental game. The same holds true in business. Why give away the advantage of communicating first, effectively and efficiently, unless of course you don’t believe in what you are saying or fear the consequences? You may not be Roger Federer or Serena Williams but there is no excuse for not giving it your absolute best shot.    


© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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