Continued from page 1
So, how do you handle messages to people who have different time horizons than you? First, be aware of possibility that they may exist. Ask a few probing questions that help you find differences.
Second, use visualizations that help others imagine future, and how they'll fit into that picture. For example, companies that sell retirement packages spend a lot of money trying to get us to imagine ourselves basking in luxury on a tropical beach.
Third, don't just talk about that future time in an abstract way. Personalize it by explaining how it will affect person you're addressing. Give that person a stake in future you foresee.
Fourth, get to that future time in steps, not in one big jump. Don't ask a 25 year old to visualize where she'll be at age 65. Instead, talk to her about typical life styles at ages 35, 45, 55, and 65.
Finally, put processes into reverse if someone else asks you to visualize a time horizon that's unfamiliar. Ask yourself what kind of assumptions and visions he brings to his scenario, and adjust accordingly.
In summary, different time horizons can be a barrier to good communication. To overcome these potential barriers you start by first recognizing possibility of their existence. If they do exist you can use visualization, personalization, and a series of time steps rather than one big jump.
Robert F. Abbott writes and publishes Abbott's Communication Letter. Learn how you can use communication to help achieve your goals, by reading articles or subscribing to this ad-supported newsletter. An excellent resource for leaders and managers, at: http://www.communication-newsletter.com