The Hustle Ep12: Communication Mastery

Hey, guys. Calvin here from Young & Wildly Successful. I hope you’re having a fantastic day. On this video, I want to talk to you about the importance of communication and hopefully give you some strategies and some skills and tools to help you make some distinctions on how you communicate with your team member, your loved ones, family and friends. But mainly stakeholders more than anything else, people that you’re trying to influence and persuade because as a business owner and also as someone that travels a lot, I understand the challenges that come with trying to live in different places.

Right now, I’m in Sri Lanka and I’ve got a team that is spread around the world. Trying to communicate to them, particularly with new team members that don’t understand our culture, is a real challenge. One of the big things I want to encourage you to do is to understand something and that is that we want to communicate with the intention to understand, not to respond. One of the big things I’ve learned along the way is that we’re so eager to get our message across that we don’t listen. Sometimes when we listen, we actually learn something. Particularly if you’re an entrepreneur, you employed people for a reason. Because they understand something about whatever it is that you do that maybe you don’t.

So often I think that we fall into the trap of thinking that we have all the answers and it’s just purely, “Just do what I say,” rather than going, “Hey, this is the problem. This is the challenge. This is the outcome that we have. What do you think about this? How do you think we could be able to make it happen?”

I was just having a conversation on the beach earlier with our head of leadership and also one of our trainers, Julian Pace. We have some sales target at the moment. I was about to jump in and say, “Hey Jules, I want us to get 30 people into this program.” Instead I backed away from that and I said instead, “Jules, tell me how the sales is going for the program.” He says, “Cal, we’re currently sitting at about 22.” I says, “Fantastic,” I says, “What else can we do to be able to get some more people?” He says, “Cal, I want to tell you, I’ve got a target. I want to hit 30.” He already had that target but if I told him about the target, he wouldn’t have owned it. When he shares it to me, I said, “Are you confident making that happen?” I says, “Awesome. Let’s go ahead and let’s make that happen. If you need anything from me, let me know.”

Now he’s got buy-in because instead of me listening with the intent to respond, I listened with the intent to understand. So that’s one of the first big things. The second big thing I want to share with you is that we make the misconception, the misguided, the misplaced assumption that everyone that we’re speaking to is just like us. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth because the reality is this, everybody is different. Everyone’s got their own beliefs, their own values, their own attitudes. They come from a different culture and different society and different time. Their parents raised them differently with different rules and expectations.

So I see so many people who communicate X because they would understand it. But in fact, what gets computed on the other end is Y. In fact, I do this in my seminars and trainings where I actually get clients and offer everyone in the program $100,000 credit to Young & Wildly Successful. Now you’d really struggle to spend $100,000 with us over a lifetime, never mind in one transaction. So I give people $100,000 to do anything with us and I give it to everybody in the audience and that obviously creates a bit of excitement and anticipation. But I’ve done this with groups as low as six. I’ve done it with groups as many as a hundred. I promise you I’ll tell them something very simple.

And if you’re ever watching this and you’re doing one of our events, normally what I share is Young & Wildly Successful’s mission is to help people live life on their terms. That’s all I share. Not a huge convoluted equation, just something simple. In fact, I could even make it as simple as, “My name is Calvin Coyles.” I could make it as simple as that. I promise you it would still work.

And we play a game of Chinese Whispers where I get them to go from the very top corner all the way down, all the way down, all the way down to the very bottom corner. Normally about seven or eight people in, it starts to get into giggles. People forget. They didn’t listen properly. They go, “Can I do it again?” The rule is you’ve got to pass it on straight away. You don’t get a double take. By the time we get to the end, it’s something completely convoluted that the person receiving can’t even understand.

I want you to imagine you’ve got three or four people in your organization and you communicate something to them and then they pass it on and then you lose 20%. And then they pass it on again and you lose 20%. So you start at 100% of the message, now you’ve got 80%. Then you’ve got 74%. Then you lose another 20% and another 20% and what ends up getting to the people that are on the ground that are working…maybe it’s your customers…is maybe 50, 60% of the total message. Can you expect to get the entire result you’re looking for with 60 or 70% of the message? In fact, it’s hard enough with 95% of the message.

So it’s really important that we communicate the way that the person receiving it needs to be communicated to. Communicate the way that you would like to be spoken to is a mistake. The reason why is because if you were communicating that way, you’re already communicating like that. We have to communicate in a way that our customer, the way that our client, the way that our team member, the way that our leaders, the way that our boss needs to be communicated to.

If someone’s short and sharp and to the point, communicate short and sharp and to the point. If someone needs to know why, communicate why. If someone needs to know all the little gritty details, communicate all the little gritty details. Because otherwise what’s going to happen is along the way, you’re going to communicate it going, “I understand it because I just communicated it.” But they don’t understand and therefore they won’t take action on it.

What a lot of us fall into the trap is not getting the correct buy-in. I was reading a book just not long ago and they were talking about this concept that a schoolteacher was doing these very complicated advanced equations on the board. He says, “Everyone got this?” Listening, like he’s writing on the board in front of me, writing on the board and listening to the students, going, “Everyone has got this?” So the student would have to say, “No, I don’t have it.” They would have to show a loss of face. They would have to be vulnerable in front of the whole group of their peers and say, “No, I don’t.” Everyone was saying, “Yeah.” Or they were just getting no answer.

So he wasn’t actually getting a confirmation buy-in. He was just writing it on the board. Then it came to the test and they all failed the test. Why? They failed the test because whilst he thought they had check-ins, he was making it hard for them to ask for help. The better question would be, “Does everybody appreciate and understand this,” and, “Does anyone have any questions?”

Even better than that, why don’t you test it a little bit? Why don’t you ask, “Can someone please explain to me what’s going on here?” Then you realize pretty quickly, if you point somebody out, you realize pretty quickly that they don’t actually fully appreciate it or understand it. “Who can describe to me exactly I’ve shared?” Then just wait.

So when I have conversations with my team, I’ll always give a directive at the end of a conversation. I’ll say, “I just want to get a repeat back please. Can you tell me what’s on your agenda today based on what I’ve shared?” If you’re not 100% convinced, you have to go back and re-communicate the point. But I think something that I want to share with you that’s going to leave you with a bit of an understanding, I want you to imagine that you’re communicating to the perfect and model replica of yourself. It’s Calvin version 2.0. But I want you to imagine that Calvin version 2.0, when I’m communicating to that person, I’m only giving them half of the information.

I’m only giving them half of the information, could you possibly expect, even if it was a complete replica of me, to come to the same conclusion with half the information? No. But I want you to imagine that you’re not speaking to a replica of you. You’re speaking to a whole other species of people. Different beliefs, different values, different attitudes.

I want you to imagine that everything that you think that you understand that’s clear as day is actually clear as mud. There’s no real perception or understanding of it and so you’ve got to make sure you test the underlying assumptions that are embedded within the conversation structure. You can’t expect even an exact replica of you, on the information you’re going to give, to come to the same conclusion and do the same thing.

But what you have to assume is that they’re going to come up with a complete opposite. Make sure that you’re there and guiding people through the process. What I would encourage you to do, as leaders, we talk about different leadership styles. There’s what’s called pace-setting leadership and there’s also coaching and affiliative,leadership. They are three of the six.

Pace-setting leadership is, “Hey, I’m going to show you how to ride a bike by riding a bike. I’m going to show you how to make sales by, ‘I’m going to make sales.'” That’s great because it tells us what’s possible but it doesn’t always give us the perception of, “What do I have to do to earn it?” Great pace-setters, great leaders by example will get out there and produce a result and show people what’s possible. Then they won’t do the work anymore. They’ll actually empower people through coaching and facilitation to create the result themselves.

Something happens with communication. You can communicate a directive that says, “I want you to produce 30 sales.” But the challenge of that is if my team’s not empowered to make those sales, they might know the objective but might not be able to produce the result, which is another breakdown in communication. We had something as simple as asking one of our team members to download a computer program and run it. But we didn’t give them an understanding of how to run the program. I just thought that they knew it because it was so simple. But they downloaded it and they’re like, “Cal, I have no idea what I’m doing with this. I don’t know how to utilize it.” Then we had to go through and actually record a video on how to use the computer program.

It might sound really almost like pulling nails or pulling teeth, but it’s a process of understanding that I failed as a leader to communicate effectively. Not only what to do but also how to do it. It’s not enough to know what to do. Your team needs to know how to do it. That comes down to great communication. The final thing I want to share with you in part of this video…I know it’s been a longer video but I hope I’ve given you some great value…final thing is the law of Seven Plus or Minus Two.

In other words, the Law of Five to Nine. What does that mean? It means that we’re dealing in a world right now where you’re not taking in everything that I’m saying right now. It’s impossible to because our brains are overloaded right now in the world that we live in.

Right now even in Sri Lanka with the beautiful beach behind me, I can’t possibly take in everything. Right now I’m speaking to you and I’m communicating the message, but there’s somebody playing a piano next to me. There’s people walking past. There’s the sound of the beach. I’m also aware, see if there’s any kids. I want to make sure we don’t film anybody else.

So I’m just being aware of those things. My brain’s taking all of that in. It’s also aware of where I’m sitting and how I’m feeling, if I’ve eaten or not. All these things are going on around us. In fact, our brains are getting bombarded every second of every day with 2 million bits of information. Two million. Which means that our brains can’t process all of that. It would just explode.

Imagine you’re running a computer program with 2,000 programs at the same time. No matter how good the computer is, it’s going to slow itself down. So what our brains do is one of three functions. We delete, we distort, or we generalize information. We delete, we distort, or we generalize information. A great example of a generalization is, “Everybody’s doing this.” Well, not everybody’s doing it but your brain can’t process every individual person so we just go, “Everybody’s doing it.”

What happens is when we communicate a message to a friend or family member, a colleague, a loved one, someone of that nature, we do one of those three things. We delete, we distort, or we generalize the information. So what ends up getting 2 million bits get filtered through all of these different experiences and what we end up left with is five to nine bits of information.

So you might communicate a really important meeting to a board or to an executive or you might communicate a whole heap of things you want to do to your team, but I can assure you that they’re only going to pick up on between five and nine bits of what you’re actually sharing if they’re paying 100% attention to begin with, which is why it’s so important to be able to cut through the noise.

So what I would encourage you to do is to understand that your team’s only going to get five to nine bits. In fact, when that study was done, it was in the early ’60s and ’70s. As a result of that, I think the world today’s even busier. I’m sure you would agree. So I would actually encourage you to only communicate three to five things. And if you can, just one thing.

Because it’s easy to make a mistake if you communicate 27 things. It’s harder if you just communicate three things. It’s even harder again if you just communicate one thing. Above all else, guys, I want to encourage you to remember the three things I’ve talked about. Listen with the intent to understand, not to respond. We always want to hear the sound of our own voice. It’s great.

But what’s more important is that you actually communicate so people understand you and you listen to make sure they’ve understood you. That’s the first thing. The second thing is when we’re communicating, I want you to imagine you’re communicating with someone that’s a complete alien. Like they’re just not going to understand anything because even if it was an exact model replica of you, you can’t guarantee they’re going to do the same thing.

The third thing is to understand this law of Seven Plus or Minus Two, although what I refer to is the Law of Three or Five. That is, I’m only going to communicate three to five key things at any one point and time, max. Because imagine you’re a football coach and you’ve got the guys in at three-quarter time and it’s pretty tight in the score line. You give them a 35-point plan on what they’re going to do. Good luck trying to remember any of that in the heat of battle. Just communicate one thing if you can, max three, and worst case scenario, five things. Because I promise you, you’re not going to remember any more than that anyway. So less is more. Truly less is more in our communication.

There’s heaps I could share with you, but with the intention of just keeping it to three things, there’s your three things for this video. If you found this really valuable, guys, I really appreciate it if you could subscribe to the YouTube Channel. If you’re on YouTube, if you’re on Facebook, please share, like, and comment. Give us some love if you loved it. If you thought it was wow, give us wow. If you were angry by it, then give me an angry face.

I just love to see your interaction and engagement on the content. Above all else, guys, remember live strong, live a passion. Make today and every day a phenomenal, life-changing adventure no matter where you are. Above all else, guys, of course as always, wherever you are around the world, make sure you live life on your terms.

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