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How's Your Communication Software Working? 
by JoAnna Brandi

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."  Fritz Perls

Read it again.  This little quote has shown up more consistently on my slides through the years than any other. Whether I'm teaching customer care, positive leadership or how to have a happier more fulfilling life, it's relevant and it raises some questions for me.

Why do some people communicate so effortlessly, easily getting what they need and want? Why is it that some people consistently get results? Why is it that there's always one person in a company who can calm down an angry customer - and even turn the person into an advocate?

What do these people have that others don't? A high level of skill in communicating. 

When you think about it, the connections we make to the outside world - with other people - are made through some process of communication. We draw a picture, tell a story, sing a song or write a letter. We shout across to the next cubicle, we laugh with friends at dinner, we wave our arms in the air and root for our favorite team, we sooth a crying child. We sit next to a colleague or customer and listen to their concerns and give them feedback.

It's all done through the process of communication. 

Some people seem to pop out of the womb being good communicators, while others struggle along pointing and grunting at what they want all the way into kindergarten. Some of us are introverts and some of us are extroverts. Whoever we are, whatever our style, we all eventually find our way to be understood, some better than others.  

I've found that the higher the skill level in communicating, even with oneself, the better the results. After all, communication starts internally. Do you get up in the morning and communicate to yourself that this is going to be a great day? Do you look in the mirror and shout, "YES!"?  Do you tell yourself that you are competent, confident, courageous and creative and that you can handle whatever comes your way with grace and humor?

Do you create a picture in your mind of the ideal day, and see yourself surfing through it without falling off the board? Do you allow yourself to feel the feeling you want to maintain throughout the day?

On days that I'm speaking I first create the feeling of exhilaration and joy early in the morning well beforeI get on stage or to the front of the room. On days when I'm writing, I first create the feeling of focus and flow before I sit down to get the job done. (Does it always work perfectly? No, however, I continue the practice because more often than not it does.)

Yes, better communication with yourself is the first step to better communication with others.

For 20 years I've been teaching that your business sits atop a metaphorical tripod  - each of the legs of the tripod represents a set of relationships. I call them External, Internal and Inner. The External leg is for the relationships you have outside the company - with customers, suppliers, strategic partners, competitors, community etc. The Internal leg is for the relationship you have with others inside the company - managers, team members. The Inner relationship - how you relate to yourself- is a critical component and plays a major role in keeping the company balanced. How you talk to yourself - optimistically or pessimistically - has a lot to do with the success of your communication with others.

I talk to myself all time and it's the quality of this communication in my life that matters most since it sets the stage for how I deal with others.

I find it's necessary to remind myself that I CAN do it (follow the list, make the calls, keep stretching outside my comfort zone). I remind myself that I'm a powerful creator in my life and that I can make the changes I need to make (gracefully and willingly) so I can see great results!

When I have a big job, I remind myself that I have everything I need to complete it. I tell myself that everything I need and everything I need to know comes to me at just the right time - and you know what? It always does! If you know me, you know I'm no Pollyanna. What I am is a tough-minded optimist, and by talking to myself positively I'm stacking the chips in the favor of my success. You can do the same.

I talk to myself in ways that support my goals and the goals of my company. I know how the brain works and figure I'll work with it! There's nothing 'soft' about these skills. Keep in mind that no system runs well without 'soft-ware.'

So, what does your internal communication sound like? Are you coaching yourself to success, too? 'Attaboy, 'Attagirl!  Way to go! Good job! You're on it! Yahoo! You DID it!

Is it time you start listening to that 'little voice' in your head and keep track of how it communicates with you? Is it supportive of and congruent with your goals? Does it help you stay in alignment with what you want to achieve? Does it congratulate you for the small wins as well as the big ones? Does it encourage you to improve?

Are you in a state of harmony with YOU?

The job you do in the world is big. It requires all the support you can get. I'm here to support you and encourage and teach you some of the things I've learned along the way. Your part is to pay attention to where you are now, relative to where you want to be. None of us can have the life we want tomorrow if we're still hanging on to the same habits we had yesterday. Better customer care begins with taking care of your #1 customer - yep, YOU.  

So what's the word? A positive one I trust...

All the best!


The Author

JoAnna Brandi

JoAnna Brandi is the Publisher of the Customer Care Coach® leadership program. She is the author of three books: "Winning at Customer Retention, 101 Ways to Keep 'em Happy, Keep 'em Loyal, and Keep 'em Coming Back" "Building Customer Loyalty - 21 Essential Elements in ACTION" and "54 Ways to stay Positive in a Changing, Challenging and Sometimes Negative World" JoAnna is an accomplished public speaker and a contributing author to numerous business publications. Her work in customer loyalty has been cited in Fortune Magazine, Sales and Marketing Magazine, The Executive Report on Customer Retention, US Banker, the Retail Advantage, The Kiplinger Letter, The Competitive Advantage and dozens of others.

You can subscribe to her bi-weekly Customer Care Tip for free and find more of her work at and .

Many more articles in The Customer Care Coach and Customer Service in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2011 by JoAnna Brandi. All rights reserved.

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