Would you like a biscuit? And if so, how will you get it?

Biscuits

Let’s talk biscuits. Everyone likes biscuits.

I was on the phone the other day to a client when my young daughter tapped me on the leg and asked me for a biscuit.

Now, she could see I was on the phone. But that didn’t register with her. She had no interest in understanding what was important to me at that moment in time. All that was important to her at that moment in time was that she wanted a biscuit.

And she believed that she had the power to make me get her a biscuit.

She was quite happy to repeat her request several times, even if it risked irritating me. But it was a chance worth taking if she got the biscuit in the end. Because that was what she wanted.

This is interruption.

In the business world it’s the digitally-powered mass communication tactics. It’s cold calls. It’s spam emails. It’s many forms of advertising. Businesses use interruption tactics in communication.

It is referred to in many marketing texts (e.g. Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing) and harks back to a previous era of communication when the more you advertised the more sales you generated.

Amazingly, even now, interruption is the default communication style of many, arguably most, organisations in the world. This is despite massive fundamental changes in the way we engage and communicate with customers.

And don’t forget massive changes in consumer skills in ignoring those interruptions.

Businesses decide what they need to say to get customers to do what they want. And then they say it: They advertise. They send emails. They make phone calls. They send out press releases. The aim is simple. It’s to get as many people as possible to listen and act positively on their messages.

OK. Back to my daughter.

As my daughter grows older she’ll begin – I really hope! – to appreciate the fact that my power is at least as influential as hers – if not more so.  And to complement her new-found appreciation, I have every confidence that she’ll learn a new set of skills in the art of conversation.

And we’ll see a new pattern of behaviour.

Before she barks out a request for something she wants me to do, say get a biscuit, she’ll notice if I am otherwise engaged. If I am on the phone, she’ll wait politely until my call is finished. Perhaps, when the call ends, she’ll ask who was on the phone and add a point of interest about that person. And then she’ll politely say: ‘Daddy, why don’t we have a nice brew?

And perhaps we could both have a biscuit?’

We have just experienced an altogether more civilised level of engagement. The conversation has become markedly more sophisticated.

Used in the right way, you can see immediately how it could become a very powerful tactic to engage and influence.

Well you can, can’t you?


Richard Glynn will help you stand out, build influence and become easier to buy from.
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