I remember once I had this sales job. Based purely on commission, we had to go door to door and pitch our office products to businesses around town.
Before we went out, we would gather as a group. We would usually head out in pairs of two or three. The morning meeting was a motivation session to get us fired up to go out and get rejected all day long in hopes of getting one or two sales.
Needless to say, this wasn’t the best job I’d ever had. Probably one of the worst.
When we would return, the managers would give us each a pep talk (since we our egos were destroyed by then).
I’ll never forget the first or second day I was there.
He asked me how the day had been, I said (trying not to sound so butt hurt), “Interesting and informative.”
He smiled, looked at me and said, “Intriguing and educational, great!”
I thought to myself, “Um, no. That’s not what I said.”
There are some schools and methods that teach paraphrasing is a good idea.
It’s supposed to show that you’re listening, and you internalized what they said, and you’re then putting it in your own words to show you really “understand” the person you’re talking to.
But that’s NOT the reaction I got from this guy.
In my mind, this guy suddenly shifted from “helpful manager” to “sleazy salesman” in about a second.
The truth is, most of our language is incredibly vague. Think about some of the words you speak on a regular basis.
Unless you’re describing detailed blueprints, or dictating a recipe for chocolate chip cookies into your voice to text translator, you’re likely speaking in very vague language.
Which means that if somebody tries to “rephrase” what you’ve just said, they’ll likely get it wrong. Meaning they’ll fire off the “sleazy salesperson” trigger in your brain.
This is just as important when the shoe’s on the other foot, so to speak.
When you are persuading and influencing, whatever your intended outcome, listen very carefully to what they are saying.
Pay close attention to the words they emphasize the most. The meanings of the words are very important to them, and give you incredible clues about their subjective model of the world.
And the more you can demonstrate your understanding of their subjective model, the more likely you’ll be able to persuade.
Luckily, there’s a set of language patterns that make this incredibly easy.
When you use them, they’ll fill in the blanks with their own meaning, so you won’t force your interpretation into their model (like that guy did to me).
Check it out here: