I was watching a "Candid Camera" video last night that dramatized just how little people pay attention to us when we're communicating.
It features a man who asks various walkers for directions to a local place of interest. He is dressed normally, but he has a bag of golf clubs slung over his shoulder.
As the unwitting person recites directions, a large white poster board comes between them, shuttled by apparent workmen, and when it passes completely, the direction seeker's clothes have changed colors, and now he holds a tennis racket.
(This was accomplished by using identical twins, who exchanged places quickly as the poster board moved past.)
Nobody noticed that his entire SPORT had been altered in, literally a few blinks of the eye.
In one vignette, the sportsman asked if there was a golf course in the vicinity just before the partition came by. Then, when it had passed, he was outfitted for tennis.
Still, his contacts just continued reciting directions to the golf venue as if nothing had happened!
Of course, this astonishing video reminds me of what I've concluded about seminar training. Yes, people do leave with a certain amount of information, but like the messages transmitted in the video sequence, it is incomplete and distorted.
To be successful in teaching people to be better at their jobs, say in selling or in customer service, we have to get their FULL ATTENTION. And just talking to them, whether there is give and take or not, is insufficient.
We need FOUR STAGES of training, as I see it.
Yes, we can start with (1) Seminars. These provide an introduction to techniques while justifying their implementation. Certain cognitive and attitudinal purposes are served by them.
But behavioral change is what we're after. If we want people to work better they need to work differently.
Seminars, unfortunately, don't (2) Sharpen skills or (3) Summon discipline or (4) Create new habits and lasting behavioral change.
For these outcomes we need coaching to assure that mere information "degenerates into practices," as management guru Peter F. Drucker described it.
You've probably heard the adage that says "A word to the wise is sufficient."
Very few of us are wise enough to simply hear and then do.
But don't take my word for it.
Just watch Candid Camera!
Best-selling author of 12 books and more than 750 articles, Dr. Gary S. Goodman is considered the world's foremost expert in telephone effectiveness, customer service, and sales development. A top-rated speaker, seminar leader, and consultant, his clients extend across the organizational spectrum, from the Fortune 1000 to small businesses. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org