“I like hot girls,” shared a four-year-old boy with his Mom. After her initial shock at these words from her son, Suzanne decided to explore the meaning of this statement. “What’s a hot girl,” she asked? “A sweaty girl,” he said nonchalantly. After breathing a sign of relief, Suzanne saw the clear logic in his statement given her son’s normal frame of reference centered around vigorous, age-appropriate, playful activities with both boys and girls.
Context is everything and understanding the underlying framework of someone’s comments is essential to true and deep understanding. Yet, I often watch people in our business make assumptions as to the meaning of words and statements in a conversation. These assumptions are the root of misunderstanding and inaccurate communication, and when left unchecked often spirals into service that misses the mark and relationships that end in discontent and disappointment.
Creating context is as simple as asking, “what does that mean,” and must be applied in all dialogues, especially in regards to modifiers and comments in conversations such as:
“I need someone with SOLID skills.”
“We need this RIGHT AWAY.”
“We’re looking for BETTER service.”
Taking the time to create context not only creates better understanding, it also demonstrates a level of care and concern that distinguishes you from your competitors, who will often settle for cursory details. This differentiator in your behavior makes you and your offering appear very “hot” in the eyes of your buyer.