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“How many more times do I have to explain this?”
“I’ve said that for years.”
And at some point people understand it, actually hear it and most importantly – believe it!
But as a (digital) change agent you might as well get used to one thing: You’ll repeat yourself a lot. Maybe even for years to come.
Some of the reasons for that:
- Your ideas are ahead of their time.
- People weren’t listening.
- People didn’t understand it.
- Too much information was shared at once.
- The wrong channel of communication was picked.
Ideas ahead of their time are fun and can make us feel innovative. Sometimes their timing carches up and sometimes not. I often frame these like this: “My educated guess is that this will happen …”
For people who don’t have enough time to focus on the present it can be hard to allocate any brain power to things that may or may not happen.
Tip: Keep thinking ahead but being too far ahead might get your idea lost. Dial it back just a touch.
People weren’t listening
Let’s be honest here but some people are a pain to listen to. The reasons can vary:
- They are reading a PowerPoint
- They are so monotonous
- They make no sense even when we were listening
- The phone buzzed with an apparently more important message
Tip: Make it entertaining and interactive. Involve the group – to the level they want to be involved in. Demand attention with your message and not by demanding it just because you think you can.
People didn’t understand it
Asking “does that make sense?” is meant to check understanding but who in a group – especially of superiors – will expose their own misunderstanding?
Tip: Instead of asking people to hold their questions encourage them to ask as they come up. Don’t make them apologize for asking questions and don’t tell them the answer is coming up on three slides down the road. Just have a conversation that shoots for understanding.
Too much information was shared
When I do half-day workshops, do I really expect people to understand and recall every single thing I said and they worked through? That’s a crazy expectation. But yet we do and we hide behind it. Not that I would ever send emails like this but I’ve seen them:
As was discussed at the workshop, (here’s the answer AGAIN to that your question).
Who cares that it was already discussed? Just explain it again. I could start many sentences with that phrase, but that would just remind me that I repeat myself a lot. ??
Tip: Be prepared to repeat things. Don’t get irritated by it and just be helpful.
The wrong channel was used
Sending me a lengthy email that I didn’t respond to doesn’t mean I own anything in that email. The same goes for voicemails!
The channels that work can differ by person (sorry, that’s not more cookie cutter ???).
Picking the best channel for any given piece of information is harder than it sounds. That’s why there are meetings that could have been emails.. And, of course, there are emails that needed to be meetings.
Along those same lines are the tweets that should have been offline and private conversations.
Why can it be easy to pick the potentially wrong channel? Probably the ease of use. Tough conversations can be hard to have in person. Or so we think. Conflict – real or perceived – can be hard – shall we say conflicting. Ha. But are they ever resolved truly in email? (Unless we count one person not responding as resolved.)
Sometimes it’s best to pick up the phone or have a meeting. Go out for coffee maybe. And sometimes email works better:
“Are you available at 2?”
“I would like to discuss xyz with you. Can we talk?
“Here are the take-aways from this meeting…”
In general, I find that emails with more than 2-5 sentences are usually too long. And just because somebody sent a lengthy email doesn’t mean the other person read it, understood it or agreed to it.
Picking the right channel may not have anything to do with what’s the most efficient channel. Email certainly can be efficient to get something shared now. So can a Tweet. Write and send. Sometimes that seems easier but it’s not solving the issue at hand. The trick is to determine the best and most efficient channel to communicate the information in the best way for the person receiving it.
Tip: Find the channel that works and present important messages in snacks and also as meals.
Not to repeat myself (ha!) but I will: Saying things doesn’t equal comprehension or recollection. As you are embarking on your digital marketing change strategy, you might as well get used that you’ll repeat yourself – a lot.
If the change is something we care about it’s totally worth repeating.