What happens when customers get the wrong end of the stick? The world is full of faulty reasoning, even among smart people.
In debating, when your opponent does this, it's an opportunity for you to highlight in your rebuttal that he's engaged in a fallacy. Generally it’s good to be able to spot faults in someone's logic, if for no other reason than that it can help you not to make that mistake yourself. However, when your counterpart is not an opponent but a customer, it doesn't help your cause if you point out his faulty reasoning.
A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still - Dale Carnegie
The ability to spot fallacies means that if your customer is employing faulty reasoning you've now got the skills to do something about it. If you can't see where the problem is, you can't fix it.
When I moved from banking to financial training I started using PowerPoint regularly. I was chatting to a close friend, a science professor many years my senior and said he should use it. He was adamantly against it!
1. He was a professor of the old school. He disliked how students wanted everything on PowerPoint, how they wanted slide-books with all the material contained. He thought this not only lazy, but bad educationally, since students who attentively take notes retain more of the lecture than otherwise. Assume for the moment that this is correct.
2. But, as a science professor he had to use some slides. You can't show magnified pictures of cells any other way. He used his old Kodak Slide Carousel Projector because he didn’t like PowerPoint.
3. Even if he's absolutely right about Point (1), Point (2) is more relevant.
"Argh! You've used those costly and laborious celluloid slides since you've been teaching!" A debate judge would have given me points. As it was, an old and dear friend got angry at me. If l were a PowerPoint salesman, I'd have failed.
l lost the sale of my idea because even highly rational scientists are still human.
It was a classic (but unintended) 'straw man': he was opposed to an idea which I hadn’t proposed. He thought I’d proposed PowerPoint for ALL lecture material. I actually meant PowerPoint instead of the celluloid slides he was already using.
You can do better:
- By acknowledging and affirming what your customer dislikes (“I hate power-point, too”).
- By bonding over a little joke ("Remember how long it took to load slides into the carousel by hand? Remember the time you loaded a new carousel with the slides upside-down? Remember when you dropped it and the slides fell out? Remember what those thieves charged to make slides?)
- By affirming what's right about current practice ("Keep using the whiteboard, it's appropriate to write notations as the topics come up in the lecture").
- Finally, by making the distinction (“But since you use celluloid slides anyway, use power-point instead of those").
By Paul Carroll, Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are nearly 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7000 members. Find your local club. Follow on Twitter.