December 06, 2008

Things I didn't know last week - December 8th 2008

This is a post in a regular weekly series about things I've learned or come to realise during the previous week.

This week "Miscommunication"

I was up in 'the big smoke' earlier this week. it was a business meeting with a rep from a company I'm trying to get some work with.

He and I had arranged to meet near one of the big London railway sations. He said to me "There's a hotel near the station. Do you know it?"
I replied that I didn't
"It's next to platform 1"
"OK" I said "I'll meet you there around 11.20"

The trip up to London was uneventful. I set in a virtually deserted carriage, caught up on some reading and generally watched the world go by.

On arrival at the station I headed across to platform one, out the door, on to the street and - lo and behold - right next to the exit was a hotel. I went in and sat in the bar. I was about 5 minutes early.

I waited for a short while, checking all the faces around me (of which there were about 4) trying to work out if any of them were my contact. Unless he was female (nope), coloured (nope) or of pensionable age with his wife (nope), he wasn't here.

I called his phone - voice mail.
I called his phone again - voice mail
I called his phone again - voice mail
I calle- a text message 'I'm in the Stanford Bar' it said. I looked around trying to work out if I was in the right bar or not, desperately looking to see the name of the establishment I was in. Nothing.

As I stood to head over to the barman my phone rang and it was my contact wanting to know where I was. I told him I was in the bar of the otel at the station next to platform 1.

"Platform 1?. Why are you at platform 1? It's the other side of the station, Platform 17".

The moral of the story is quite straightforward - check your details. I am convinced he said platform 1 when we spoke. I even wrote it down. He is convinced he didn't.

But what has this to do with things I didn't know last week: Well it's all the topic of 'communication' - or more precisely 'Miscommunication'

@ChrisBrogan sent a Tweet out this week which said "Sales is 90% listening". I replied something along the lines of "If I'm talking to sales I want them 100% listening, what are they doing with the extra 10%?" The upshot of it all is he meant "The art of sales should involve 90% listening and 10% doing something else. But it was a miscommunication. He said one thing, I heard another.

In a world of 140 character text-bytes it is all to easy to 'pare-down' your message to something witty, succinct and erudite. But how much are you losing in the process?

To see all the "Things I didn't know" posts, just click here.

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