Lack of Confidence = Miscommunication

woman talking on the phone

“Communication is not saying something. Communication is being heard.”

– Frances Hesselbein –

Many of you already know my “just” story.  At the age of 28, building my first business and making outbound calls across the country, I was shocked to discover that turning a great conversation into a sale wasn’t as easy as I had anticipated.

As part of researching solutions for this unexpected challenge, I started recording my calls. I discovered the one small word that was causing all the difficulty – “just”.

I was nervous contacting the VPs and CEOs on my call lists, and I was always visualizing how my call was interrupting them. The combination of being nervous and wanting to be polite resulted in my starting each call with “It’s Mary Jane Copps and I’m just calling to …

The person I was calling did not hear nervous and polite. When they heard the word “just” they understood my call had little value and that my conversation held no clear purpose. No wonder I wasn’t closing any sales!

This past week I encountered a very different reaction to a lack of confidence. It not only limited conversation … it was offensive.

How can a lack of confidence come across as offensive? And how can you avoid this happening to you?

On a video call recently, a new entrepreneur was explaining their business model to me. It is a fascinating, big idea company that will provide amazing support to small businesses and artists around the world. The focus on social and environmental responsibility is right on point and something I greatly admire.

Yet, as our conversation continued, I began to feel uncomfortable, verging on anger.

“Why am I suddenly feeling this way?” I asked myself. And then I heard it again, words that got under my skin and caused me to begin shutting down, move towards ending the call.

As the entrepreneur continued to describe the business model, they said things like, “I don’t know if you can understand this,” and “I realize this is difficult for you to understand,” and “You may not understand this.”

My instinctive reaction was “Why are you saying these things? Do you think I lack intelligence? Do you think I’m inexperienced? Why are we having this conversation with me if you believe I’m incapable of understanding your business model?”

In other words, I was getting annoyed, had stopped listening and was ready to say goodbye.

But my coaching self emerged. With a calm and inquisitive tone of voice, I shared with the entrepreneur what I understood about their business and also told them my reaction to their words.

“Oh my,” they said. “That’s not what I intend. I’m using those statements because I think I’m not explaining it well.”

Ahhh. Insecurity and lack of confidence in action. It’s so important, no matter how nervous or uncertain we are, that we use language and phrasing that engages our listener and allows our enthusiasm, knowledge and confidence to be heard.

Words matter. They build both relationships and business. Take the time to know and understand the words you are using. Record yourself, role play, invest in some coaching. Words matter – choose the right ones.

Are you struggling to inspire conversations with your prospects and begin building trust and relationships? I can help you find the right words … and the right process to create the conversations that lead to increased sales. Want to know more? Click here.


4 thoughts on “Lack of Confidence = Miscommunication”

  1. This is a brilliant illustration of miscommunication Mary Jane, and how great that you were able to coach this entrepreneur. Thank you for sharing and kudos to you!

    • Thanks, Janet. Not always easy to catch these bits of miscommunication, but always a lesson for me when I do. I think all of us bring our lack of confidence into conversations without realizing the consequences.

  2. Great story Mary Jane. The lesson on the value of working on the words and phrases we use to communicate.
    Coaching is a great help.

    • Thanks Glenn. Glad that you enjoyed the story. I know we all have these types of communication stories that can be lessons for others.


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