Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The "ART" of Miscommunication

Handing out simple messages should be easy and not very frustrating, but it is not always so and I can offer up typical examples where the Reader is completely clueless about what certain words or phrases mean. Not everyone, but too many:

1. Years ago I noticed when I had my Game Shop (Thinkers' Emporium) open from Monday through Saturday that business was almost non-existent on Wednesday. So I sent out my newsletters (by mail!) announcing we would be Closed on Wednesday. That should seem, ordinarily, pretty simple. It wasn't. Some responses:
a. I was now OPEN on Wednesday. Where did that come from?
b. I was only open on the weekend. Why not just put out a sign "closed forever!"
c. I was open SOME Wednesdays. Again, self-defeating.

When I returned to being OPEN on Wednesday, the reactions, once again, were all over the MAP. OPEN means Open and CLOSED means closed. That's simple, but apparently the message wasn't. Have any of you read Harlan Ellison? Great writer and he continues to sell.  Yet, some view him as a maniac because he refuses to be stupid.

2. One time when I was trying to sell my business Chessco I got the following types of comments:
a. "Why did you decide to go out of business?" I never said I was going out of business, I was looking for a BUYER. I would strongly imagine that a buyer would WANT to CONTINUE the business otherwise he could start his own. And some other times a new buyer will want the former owner to stay on for a while. No worries!
b. "Where will I buy my chess stuff now?" Right here. The business is continuing.
c. "When will it be sold?" How on earth would I know that? Just keep buying goods... future changes will obviously be made known.
d. I will probably hear from someone right now asking me "why" am I selling my business because his reading comprehension is at the bottom of a well. They don't read anything except what they want to.

When I came back from Savannah, GA some people were surprised! Why? I was sending emails to them telling I was starting up my business again, didn't they read them? Some were unhappy with Chess4Less. I was too. My contract had an annual catalog to be put out every year, but the buyer LIED.

3. In Davenport, probably like a lot of other communities, we have these various Drive Up Coffee Shops. One of them Andrew Martin and I go to is called The Coffee Hound. There is another one on Main Street and it has a sign up that says "Business for Sale" (no that is not the name of the coffee business). All of a sudden they went from having regular customers to almost "none" because customers (many) don't know what Business for Sale means. They "think" it means: "We won't be here anymore right after we serve you now!" It just means they are looking for someone to take over the business and give them some consideration for it (money, property, etc.) I feel sorry for them. There are business brokers who try to sell businesses "under the radar" so it won't discourage current customers who can't read the intent.

4. Recently I requested Feedback either on this Blog or in a email sending. One guy complained that "I sent you criticism and got my head bit off!" He wasn't paying attention. I wasn't looking for criticism but FEEDBACK of what I needed to do to engage the readers more, to know they existed. MY complaint was that I sent out what I thought was a good issue and it resulted in no orders, no feedback, no commentary. So... I wanted to know, "What am I doing wrong?" Instead, he bellyached. Why? I don't know, he never bought anything anyway except when the moon turned blue. He also was a promiser type of person who--just didn't come through (EVER) and always had an excuse for NOT doing something (anything). If I need criticism of me, I can create it myself. No one NEEDS criticism (I am in the camp of those who do not believe criticism is EVER constructive) but many of us are willing to take suggestions, what moves their mountain, how they might do something, etc. Often what some of these folks want is something that is money and time intensive and something they themselves would not attempt.

Incidentally, I got quite a few emails from people telling me THEY DO read what I send. Some made assumptions about me (which were mostly wrong) and what I wanted or was after. I make assumptions when I serve up fare but if it isn't working, I will try to adapt. After all, I am in business, and business people sell things, that's how we pay for insurance, auto licenses, groceries, mortgage, gas, and all the other stuff people buy. So I want to "sell" things you will be interested in! If I tell someone WHY I don't do something, or DO do something, it can easily be totally misconstrued (see items 1-4).

Today for example. I spent 1.5 hours on the phone with "Autumn" at setting up my NEW website, email addresses, etc. Very pleasant, knew her beans. When I didn't understand something or couldn't find something, I ASKED... I did not assume. I am now rowing my boat! I also asked about setting up a PayPal account to handle "sales." More money, more questions, more things to deal with. But, I didn't assume ANYTHING except that it would be harder and more time consuming than GoDaddy implied. And guess what? It was and is. But... I am getting there!

What is your list? The miscommunication isn't missing, "lying" is the usual substitution. Here's mine of those who FAIL with regularity:
1. Old world printers who promise delivery by such and such date. And don't deliver.
2. Web designers who tell you NOTHING is a problem for them. But it.
3. Bankers who tell you how easy it is to apply for a loan before you get the two dozen pages of paperwork.
4. Opportunists who tell you how to "get rich quick!" Work is always necessary.

On the other hand... should you want to contact me (I hope so) and tell me what gooses you and how I can win you over, just drop me a line at: or (web site is not up yet but the email address is in place--I think).

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