The Importance of Making Communication Personal

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I once worked with a CEO that, regardless of what he did, was unable to elicit compliance from his team. Logically, he said all the right things and had the right goals in mind, but in practice, he just couldn't get people do align with his decisions.

He suffered from a problem that a lot of executives do nowadays: he didn't tailor his communication to the people he worked with. He blindly delivered the message in the same format for everybody, not making an effort to appeal a specific person's language, needs, points of interest. And then, surprise surprise, he couldn't get compliance.

Language Mirroring

There are many aspects to making communication personal. But one of the key ones comes down to language mirroring. Just taking note of some key phrases and words that the person uses and repeat them back to them, this has an immense effect on the empathy that you create.

If the person usually sums up things by saying “The key point is”, then start doing it with them. Instead, if they say “This all comes down to”, then repeat that back to them. Of course, it's not scalable to memorise the language patterns of everyone. You might speak to a dozen people on a regular basis So, just get on a conversation, see what kind of language they use, and mirror it back.

Analogies and Metaphors

Another important topic is to look for analogies and metaphors. If they are a parent, talk about raising this project like you would raise your kid. With care, the right mix of discipline and freedom. So it can grow into something amazing you're proud of. If someone is a sports fan, use sports analogies. Same for gaming, politics, any other interest. Know what their language patterns are, and use them to make the message easier to digest.

I once worked with a CEO that used this to drive home an important deal. He was convincing the other side of the table about the benefits of the product. They weren't very receptive. But he knew the CIO on the other side was a big football fan. So he started using football analogies about his team. About the role of this product. To help them score goals and win the championship. The CIO immediately opened up. And his team slowly warmed up as well. He brought the deal home.

You might say you are out of time or that you don't have the patience to understand people. Fair points. Just take some time to detect their general language patterns and likes, and use them to make your message more persuasive. It works.

About the Author 

Vasco Patrício

High-performance coach for top CEOs, hedge fund managers and politicians. Known as the Executive Kingmaker, I'm an MIT-backed 4x entrepreneur and startup investor turned performance coach. I work mostly with increasing influence and power, helping retain top talent and tuning psychological performance so you make money and achieve your legacy.

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