As an executive coach, I work with people looking to improve their success skills and determine their future goals. But coaches need coaches too! So, I joined a women’s leadership group called Her Corner and I participate in a peer coaching group every month. As part of that I read Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. I was struck by the following passage:
People need to hear the vision seven times before they really hear it for the first time. Human beings have short attention spans and are a little jaded when it comes to new messages. As a good leader, you must remain consistent in your message.
What do you think? Have you ever thought of how many times someone has to hear something before they really hear you? Would this change how you think about communicating?
Is 7 the Magic Number?
The quote above is about leaders trying to communicate their vision to their employees. Whether you are a leader with a vision or just a person with a message, people needing to hear something seven times impacts your ability to effectively communicate.
How differently might you prepare your communications with this in mind? For instance,
Planning out the timing of when you will communicate seven times
Considering your message if you’re not expecting people to get the message the first time
Thinking about different communication methods you could use (verbal, written, images)
Understanding how your message might change once you realize people are hearing you
Do you have the attention span of a goldfish…?
Speaking of attention span, a 2015 study by Microsoft Canada said that the average attention span of an adult was 8 seconds. They stated that this was less than the attention span of a goldfish. It just takes a few seconds of googling to see that this is a controversial subject. First off, whether the average attention span is really 8 seconds – does that sound right to you? And secondly, who is testing goldfish attention spans? According to some articles, no one has actually invested the time to ask (or observe) the poor goldfish.
I may have an excellent attention span when I’m focusing on something I’m passionate about. But there are less exciting tasks that I have to do each day that lead to the struggles of a shorter attention span. So, I’m not sure my average attention span would be the same across the board and I’m sure that’s the same for many other people too.
Since I may not know for sure how interesting a topic is for my listener or reader, I do try to keep what I’m communicating very brief. For example, we at the Growth Group Academy are going to be launching a podcast soon and one of our biggest discussions has been around how long the episodes should last. (We’re happy to take suggestions in the comments below! How long would you want an episode to be for our Listen4Success podcast?)
In addition to taking into consideration attention span, it’s also equally as important to consider how someone’s relationship to change is, and does your topic, vision, or whatever you’re communicating require a change?
People Love Change, Right?
Resistance to change is always the biggest obstacle. Chris Paine
Most people naturally push back against change. Often what we need to communicate might result in a change. We need to consider how to communicate our message in a way that takes into consideration how the change factor could impact their ability to hear our message.
One way to incorporate this thinking into your communication is to consider your own relationship to change. What is your relationship with change? Do you naturally push back against change or do you instantly embrace it? Or, more likely, do you do a little of both? Understanding your own feelings about change can make a big difference in how you consider other people’s relationships to change. Taking even the smallest amount of time to consider the change factor in a conversation could go the longest way in the person being receptive to your message.
* Actionable Success Steps
Use these Actionable Success Steps to improve the likelihood that others will hear your message- whether it takes them hearing it seven times or just once!
Consider an upcoming communication you need to make – how would you frame the message if you thought it would take the receiver seven times to hear your message?
Consider your attention span. How long can you stay completely focused on something before you get distracted? Test yourself by watching videos or listening to podcasts. Does your interest in the topic impact your attention span?
Take an easy change quiz at https://www.powersresourcecenter.com/quiz-well-cope-with-change/ and consider your own relationship with change. How do you feel about change and how might that impact how easily you hear someone else’s message?
Right now our Strengthening Effective Communication course is free using the code SUCCESS. Click here to sign up and learn more!