Talk differently to everyone

Here’s the third post of 5 that I’m doing on the book “Verbal Judo – The Gentle Art of Persuasion” by George J. Thompson, Ph.D.

About 5 years ago, I had a performance evaluation. I was killing it with new and interesting projects and I went into the meeting smug and happy with myself. My boss gave me a good evaluation then asked if I had any questions for her.

Sitting on cloud nine I flipped the question back to her and asked her if there was any constructive feedback she could give me. Without missing a beat she said something that I did not understand for years. It only made sense after I read “Verbal Judo.”

5 years ago, my boss tilted her head, thought about it, then told me, “David, you can’t treat everyone the same.” I asked for clarification and she said, “You need to figure out how people want to be treated. You need to treat people differently.”

I still didn’t get it. I sat on the feedback for years. After reading “Verbal Judo,” now I get it.

“Treat everyone the same (with REspect and dignity), but don’t talk to everyone the same way. You don’t talk to each of your children the same way, do you? Since each responds differently, based on his or her makeup and character, you instinctively learn to communicate uniquely to each one.” – Thompson

Thompson goes on to clarify that you must know your audience:

“Knowing one’s audience and communicating in his language is one of the greatest skills there is.” – Thompson

And he finally nails the point with the following quote:

“If you’re having trouble communicating with those from different walks of life, it may be because you’re thinking about yourself instead of about them. If you allow your ego to get in the way, you will find yourself using your own language instead of the other person’s.” – Thompson

Are you having trouble communicating with people? Perhaps you should stop making it about you. Focus on the other person. Learn them. Then speak to them according to the ways you have learned they appreciate being spoken to.

Did this post help you? Email me if you have any questions!


Author: David Neely

Professional Software Developer. Technology and Web Coordinator at the University of Hawaii's Manoa Career Center.