Another perspective of reality
“Many failures in communication initially seem like a success to the speaker! They get their perception of the facts, and propose a solution that makes sense to them. The problem is they didn’t get the other person’s perception of the facts, so their solution may not be sensible to that person.”
Effective listening skills are the key to correctly “reading a situation” or “sizing up a problem.” The ability to solve problems, resolve differences and capture opportunities involves these listening skills coupled with another skill, the ability to analyze a situation. This analysis requires asking the right questions to clarify problems, needs, wants and opportunities–what another person has now compared to what they’d rather have. This analysis helps you discover their perception of the “facts.”
Following is a questioning sequence called NIQCL that is highly effective for analyzing needs, problems or opportunities in depth. With the factual information this in-depth probing sequence gives you, you’ll be able to form “tailored” solutions that lead to cooperation, teamwork, buy-in and better communication.
Need: What’s wrong? What’s the objective? Does a problem or opportunity exist? Sales are produced by solving a problem for your customer or helping them capture an opportunity. So an essential part of the communication process is identifying that need.
Importance: How serious is it? Is it a priority? Never assume that the first response is the only problem or opportunity or that it is their top priority. Sometimes the other person is testing to see if you actually care. So when you uncover the initial need asking “what else?” is always a good idea. If there are multiple needs, ask the other person to prioritize them because your priorities may not be theirs.
Quantify: What is the size and scope of the need? My general rule of thumb is unless I have 3 numbers associated with the problem, I probably do not fully understand the size and scope of the problem. It may be a single number (4 times a week) extrapolated (times 52 weeks or 208 per year) to its full size and scope ($75 in lost revenue/occurence or annual missed revenue of more than $15K).
Consequences: What is its impact and effect? What if it’s not solved? This is the payoff question for great communicators. If there are no consequences to doing nothing (“we’ve been living with this for 10 years.”) you will never gain commitment. Remember all change involves some level of perceived or real pain for your customer. So the pain of doing nothing has to be greater than the perceived pain associated with the change. Therefore consequences will have a factual impact ($15K in missed revenue) and an emotional impact (“I don’t feel I’m reaching my actual potential”)
Look/Listen: Once you have all the information above you can transition into your solution (Let me share with you the details of my idea so you can decide if it is something you can support).
These NIQCL questions, when used with the respect acknowledgments will:
– help determine another person’s perception of the facts,
– increase your own awareness of their needs,
– generate the data on which customized and personalized solutions can be formed, and
– lead to well-informed and committed decisions.
You can also use NIQCL as a series of statements when you want to share your perceptions with others.
This is a very versatile communication tool and once you really understand another person’s perception of a problem or they understand your perspective, you will have a much easier time responding with a solution that will satisfy everyone. This is an essential ability for leadership, teamwork, management, customer service, sales and any other situation in which you need to gain the commitment or support of others.
[Tweet “Another perspective of reality via @parpat #BusinessTips”]
Share This Article:
About Patrick Malone
Patrick T. Malone, a Senior Partner with The PAR Group, has decades of experience in operations, customer service, and sales management. Before joining PAR as a senior consultant in 1989, Patrick worked in a variety of management roles including Vice President - National Sales Manager for The Scotts Companies and American Greetings. As a key…