Impact is defined as “having a marked effect or influence on someone” (verb). As a noun it is often said to be “the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.” (noun).
Whichever definition resonates better with you, the message is clear, that there is nothing more important in effective communications than impact.
It’s vital to be very clear about what kind of impact you are seeking when you communicate, because the intention of your impact will help to shape the method and style of delivery as well as the type of communication you choose.
At the more subtle end of the scale, impact can be thought of as quiet, effective and gentle. At the more overt end of the scale it can been experienced as loud, hard-hitting and potentially painful.
There is no right or wrong, there just is the importance of having impact. It’s about light and shade. Sometimes we need to be more subtle because of the likely outcome of the impact we are looking to make. Sometimes we need to turn up the tempo or volume because otherwise we may be neither heard or noticed.
It can be argued that there is no point in communicating if you are not making some kind of impact. The impact here being a recognition or change in situation or outcome that would otherwise not have happened had you not communicated. The key being the change in outcome.
We all know people, friends or colleagues, who communicate, often it feels, simply for the sake of communicating. There appears to be no purpose, just simply noise and chatter for the sake of noise and chatter. How does that feel as the recipient of such communication? What do you want to do as a result of being communicated to like that?
The most likely response is that you seek to avoid or move away rather than a more positive and constructive outcome. The issue is that the communicator is being vague or uncertain, perhaps neglecting completely, the purpose or intent of the communication. They are lacking impact.
Then consider those people, and I am sure you can think of a small number, who always seem to make a difference. They always seem to ‘get what they want’. We listen to them because they either make sense, or more likely it’s because of the way they say things. They may not have the best ideas or be the most positive, but they have impact because they are careful, if they realise it or not, to consider the impact of their communication.
These communicators are clear in their own minds of the purpose and intent of what they are communicating and probably, if they are highly skilled in this, the medium and style through which they communicate too. They have purpose and intent because they are considering the desired outcome from their communication. They know what they want to portray or share or ask for, and they have projected forward to ensure they have visualised or conceived of the most likely outcome.
If these people have the intention of an outcome that provides a win-win, for them and for those they communicate with, then their intent and the impact of their communication is going to be the most effective.
Does this mean they have to speak loudest, be the fastest most overt communicators? In my experience this will rarely be the case. Many of the best communicators say very little, but when they do speak, they follow these rules of empathic communication so that by clear intent and purpose, and by visualising a single win-win outcome, their message drives home and has maximum impact.
For the chatterboxes amongst us all, this ability to create space and time in communication may seem a million miles from a practical, every day way to communicate. However, with it’s inherent slowing down of mental thought process, and more careful choice of words, tone and style, if consciously practiced it can be mastered and in itself create more space and time.
In personal relationships where you will directly benefit from the impact of strong communication you will see an immediate return on your investment in your attention.
With work colleagues, the impact of your communications may take a little longer to master because you are dealing with a broader range of personalities, archetypes and behavioural and style preferences. It can be mastered, but be patient and remember that it is you who controls the speed of your thought processes and the pace and style with which you communicate. Take your time.
If you consider impact in your customer communications and marketing the same methodology applies. By listening carefully to your target customers’ needs, behaviours, styles and desires you can consciously match your communication to resonate with them. The more they perceive you (and your team, your brand and your customer service) as ‘just like them’, the higher their propensity to engage with you. Relevance is key here and it’s about how you are perceived rather than what it is that you want to say.
So for the rest of today, whenever you communicate by words, messages or digitally, think about your desired impact. Think about your intention and purpose and the ideal win-win with those you are communicating with.
Remember the old saying, “if you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything”? Our older generations knew a thing or two about communication and impact. It wasn’t as noisy a world back in the old days, and that’s the point. As everything becomes noisier and ever more chaotic, now is the time to make the best impact.
Listen to the Podcast of this article on iTunes… search Neil Wilkins Podcast on iTunes