Provocative Communications (English)
Provocative communication can be a very powerful tool. It serves as a wake-up call, helps you break through old patterns and ideas as well as finds new opportunities – it forces the recipient to think, feel, relate and visualize. It is a laser-focused and confronting challenge.
There is an expression from kundalini yoga that describes how to approach provocative communications quite well – Poke. Provoke. Confront. Elevate. It’s about development. It’s about pushing forward. It’s about challenging illusions, preconceived ideas and stagnation while elevating people and situations to excellence. With empathy. It begins and ends with empathy. Without it, provocative communication easily becomes insulting, creates badwill and ultimately threatens the relationship. Obviously that will not create the type of challenge that you are looking for.
So, empathy comes first. Even when selling something.
Demands on sales people have changed drastically during the past years and customers today expects sales people to be experts that are able to fully grasp their business and their particular challenges and be able to adapt to them quickly. Bringing value and maybe even becoming value for the customer. Provocative communication can help you achieve just that – firstly, for all the reasons mentioned above; break through patterns, challenge illusions, old concept or similar and secondly, in sales a way to find new and creative business opportunities.
Provocative selling has, ever since the concept first appeared in Harvard Business Review, been used as a disruptive and effective sales tactic when the customer doesn’t fully/at all understand the problem or when in an economic downturn and it is hard for customers to find budget.
But it is also very helpful, if you want to help someone, draw the attention to something specific, get to the root of something or push towards something new. In general business communications it is an excellent tool for an organization wanting to change positions in the market or recreate its image.
So how do you do it?
• Make sure that you know the person/situation you will be provoking well enough. What you know today is most likely not enough.
• Identify the critical issue or key challenge. Make sure it truly is an issue and truly critical. Not only to you but to the receiving person.
• Prepare carefully (especially if you use it as a sales tool) by understanding person, role, situation, businness, challenges and what not.
• Start & continue with empathy. Put yourself in the other persons situation. And try to stay there.
• Be straightforward and polite when you deliver the provocation. Being impolite or rude will only make the other person feel stupid and that ralrey leads to anything good.
• Listen carefully to whatever the reaction is And be sure to “listen to understand” as opposed to “listen to reply”.
In business, speaking to the right person and thinking about who you are in their eyes is also worth giving some thought before going ahead.
With this is mind, provocative communications can be a very powerful tool. Used right it can be groundbreaking.