Where Do You Put The Point?
Insights From 'Mastering Communication At Work' by Ethan F. Becker And Jon Wortmann
Where do you put the point?
The first skill in being a master communicator is knowing where to put the point in a conversation, so people hear your meaning, can follow what you want from them and can remember it.
This technique comes from Aristotle, who realized that some people are deductive and some people are inductive.
Deductive thinkers put the point first and then they give the details of why that point is important. Inductive communicators give the details first and then put the point at the end to describe why their meaning matters.
Now, the reality is some people are deductive speakers and other people are deductive listeners.
You could be a deductive speaker and an inductive listener, it all depends on the way you think naturally. And the key is to be able to match a person's place where they put the point.
If my listener is deductive, and I want to know if it's going to rain today because I want to go for a run, I have to say, is it going to rain today because my mom said I've gained a little weight and I want to go for a run.
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The inductive listener needs you to actually switch the order of the communication. They need you to say, "Hey my mom said I've been gaining some weight, I want to go for a run, is it going to rain today?" If you say, "Is it going to rain today?" to the inductive communicator before saying why that matters, they may say that your point was you wanted to go for a run, but instead, you wanted information about the weather and they may have missed it.
Now of course, in this simple clear communication you couldn't have missed the point or you'd figure it out with a simple question. In complicated meetings, conflict resolution and presentations, if the point isn't in the right place for your listeners they're not going to hear you.
Now how do you figure out that when you've got a complicated room with different kinds of communicators? You put the point first and at the end. What if you offer the point in the wrong place and people don't hear you?
Offer the point in the opposite place that you did before and they'll be able to follow you.
The key skill is match the tendency of the person you're talking to.
Wherever they need the point, offer it to them and they'll hear your clear communication.