Is your message hitting a brick wall of misunderstanding?

It’s hard breaking through the brick wall of misunderstanding or silence.

Hitting a brick wall when networking?

A common complaint heard about networking is getting no response from people. What can I do to make them care? What can I do to make them listen?

At a networking event recently, I overheard a conversation I hear frequently… (names changed to protect us all)

Hi, Norman, nice to see you at this event–I’m glad you took up my invitation. How’s it going for you?

Well, Fred, I don’t think that this is the right group for me.

Oh, how’s that?

Nobody seems to listen and when they do, I just can’t break through that brick wall. They just don’t understand.

Well, Norman, what do you think you could do to help them?

They either just glaze over and walk away or they just don’t get how it could help their customers, and that would help them.  They should, it’s perfectly clear. I tell them and tell them but there’s no breaking through the brick wall.

How could you make your pitch more appealing?

It’s not me, Norman, it’s them. My pitch is absolutely fine and very clear. They just don’t get it.

Hmm–do excuse me, I must catch Joe before he leaves.

That conversation taught me a couple of lessons–and not just ones that Norman could learn, but Fred too.

What’s behind that wall?

Let’s look at the feelings behind the conversation. Norman by being negative has upset Fred, who recommended him to go to the group. Fred assumes it’s Norman and asks him a question which Fred feels will help Norman, but it makes him defensive. Norman feels he has to defend himself and blames it on the others. Fred who doesn’t understand what Norman does feels insulted and is a bit hurt as he was just trying to help Norman in breaking through the brick wall. The relationship suffers.

How to break through the brick wall

First, if you are trying to break through a brick wall of misunderstanding, you don’t know what the person on the other side is feeling or doing. If they misunderstand you, you probably don’t understand them.

Secondly, if you are on one side of the brick wall, you can’t do anything about the behaviour of the people on the other side. So you need to start working on your side (yourself and your behaviour) first.

Finally, it’s hard to help someone who doesn’t think they need to change. Just listen till they’ve finished. It’s always easy to find fault with others when they see things differently–maybe their reality is different from ours.

We cannot make people change, listen or care. However if we change, listen and care, they are much more likely to do the same.

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