“I just don’t know why people won’t listen to me.”
These were the words of an extremely bright young woman sitting across from me in a coffee shop.
I sipped my rocket fuel and let her talk some more.
“I could save them a lot of money. This new product we just rolled out is phenomenal, but as soon as I get in the door, it’s like they shut down.”
Continuing to listen to her story, I mentioned that people do business with people the like and trust, but before the words were out of my mouth she cut me off with a curt, “I KNOW”
Instantly, I knew what her problem was. She used the two words guaranteed to kill a conversation. If she was using it with me, a guy she was paying, she was using it with others too and that was her problem.
When we use the words I know, we’re devaluing the contribution of the person we’re speaking with and everyone wants to feel like they’re contributing. The words I know, are a subtle way of saying, I’m every bit as smart as you are, why are you telling me this. It’s a mark of insecurity.
I wasn’t wrong when I told Alex that people do business with people they like and trust, her problem though is that no one likes a know it all.
It reminded me of a great story that I’d read recently about a young lady that had dinner with both William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli when both were vying to be Prime Minister.Both were considered to be charming dinner companions and skilled conversationalists.
After her dinner, a friend asked her whom was more charming and her response was telling:
After dining with Mr. Gladstone, I got the feeling that he was the cleverest person in the empire. After Dining with Mr. Disraeli, I had the feeling that I was.
Using the words I know might make you seem like the cleverest person in the world, but it’s making your conversation partner feel as though they are that will earn you their attention, their admiration, and their business.
My client had been mistaken. All the while she thought her prospects wanted to know that she was smart but in reality, they wanted confirmation that they were. She wasn’t giving it to them, and they weren’t listening long enough to know that she was.
I’ve found that letting people give their opinions complimenting them on their insight is always a better tact. When I met with Alex the next time, she told me she felt that simply replacing the words I know with that’s interesting was leading to more connection and deeper conversations and she was amazed at the number of prospects that were now listening to her ideas.
Are you being haunted by the two words that will kill a conversation? If so, consider replacing I know with that’s interesting and see tell me if your results aren’t similar.