"Know Your Audience"
Your Success Thought for the Week of November 29, 2006

A key to success for any speaker, marketing maven, negotiator or author is to know your audience. What we may not be aware of is how vital this concept is to the success of our daily one-on-one conversations.

  • A husband and wife arrive home at the same time after a grueling day of work. Is this the time to discuss financial pressures? Each one is the audience for the other. What each most likely desires is some silence, soothing words, comfort and a gentle backrub.
  • A physician has just learned of horrifying news to share with a patient. Is this a time to use the medical terms he’d use with associates, or does he speak in a language, pace and tone that the patient will understand, fully knowing that the patient is in pain and fear?
  • The president of your company who has mentored you for months has just now drearily walked out of an intense five-hour board meeting. Is this the time to run up and ask for a month sabbatical?

We err in our conversations when we either: 1) expect the listener to always be in the same frame of mind, or, 2) are more focused on what we have to say than what they actually hear. Both are fatal errors of judgment.

Expecting others to be in the same frame of mind morning, noon, and night demonstrates a lack of awareness and respect on our part.

We all know the office nice guy who freely helps out with our computer issues. We approach him throughout the day with our agonizing challenges, but then we are offended when he sets a boundary that he’s too busy to assist.

“Well, Stuart is certainly having a bad day!” we snap. Had we been more aware, we would have seen that Stuart is in fact buried and does not have time to solve our needs. We were more focused on his general character than who he is at this moment.

People, including you, simply change throughout the day. Sometimes they are available and engaged, while at other times they are clearly not. Timing and focus will make or break your interaction.

When approaching someone for a significant conversation, even if it is for only a few moments, ask for permission and what their timing is. If you ask for two minutes, make sure that you take only two and not five, along with showing gratitude.

Hand in hand with the above scenario, we are often more interested in what we want to share than in what the listener is capable of hearing. Is this due to the fast pace that life demands or to our current state of urgency or emotion?

An IT enthusiast may be thrilled with a new gadget and can’t wait to share it with you. If she rushes up to you, insisting that you drop everything to listen to her right now, and talks in her highly technical terms, how can she expect you to share her enthusiasm? She hasn’t given you a chance to catch up with her, and she is talking a language that you do not understand. She is far better off to communicate it to you in a way that 1) would interest you and 2) is in terms that you would understand.

Does she use a question or a statement; speak slowly or fast; provide detailed information or bottom line her information? She can provide the same message either way, yet the delivery will be successful when it is suited to how you will receive it.

I often hear “He just doesn’t listen to me!” or “She just doesn’t get it!” Perhaps that is because the communicator isn’t paying attention to his or her audience. If I know you are in the right frame of mind for what I have to say, and I say it with more concern for your ability to hear it at this moment, my chances for success are much more likely.

Notice your audience this week, especially with those closest to you. I’d love to learn how this works for you and what shifts you notice.

Have an outstanding week and enjoy your discoveries.


Ann Golden Eglé, MCC
Executive Coach & President
Golden Visions Success Coaching, LLC

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Permission is granted to either reproduce copy or distribute "Your Success Thought for the Week for November 29, 2006" as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author is attached. The author is Ann Golden Eglé, Golden Visions Success Coaching, LLC, 541.385.8887, 21775 Rickard Rd., Bend, Oregon 97701, www.GoldenVisionsSuccess.com

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