The way you look at the world today is not the way you looked at it when you were ten. Back then, the teacher who frowned and ordered, “walk in the hallway” was “mean.” Going back to visit today, you’d probably find that not only is the building a little smaller, but that mean old teacher is, too.
If you were to take her to lunch, you might even find her to be rather “nice” and full of interesting stories and insights about you, your family, and the other kids you knew. You had no idea what the principal was really doing or how two of your favorite teachers never really got along. Maybe she’d even share a story about a child who she really helped. Further, as you think about it more, you might discover that child is you!
The second axiom of Paul Watzlawick’s Interactive Communication Theory is:
“Every communication has a content and relationship aspect such that the latter classifies the former and is therefore a meta-communication. Each person responds to the content of communication in the context of the relationship between the communicators.”
Knowledge and experience shape how we see a situation and react to it. Whether we’re young or old, living in a hut or in a mansion, we bring our own worlds to each interaction. Meta communication is the sub-text through which the real message is found. “It is based on the idea that the same message, accompanied by different meta-communication, can mean something entirely different, including its opposite, as in irony.” (Wikipedia)
Watzlawick’s Interactive Communication Theory suggests that:
“Communication happens because all of the communicators are not ‘speaking the same language.’ This happens because people have different viewpoints of speaking.”
This second axiom begins to explain why some customers don’t respond well to certain emails, commercials, websites, or blog posts- yet alone the newest sales guy on your team. Customer perspectives alter your message.
Just like the teacher didn’t seem so mean after the boy grew up and had a perspective change, so your clients might one day appreciate your product, service, brand, or channel when needs or experiences change perspectives. Of course, until then, you might want to further analyze how to alter how you say what you say, so that it’s more favorably received.
Dominos decided to change the perception of its pizza. Executives spent eighteen months perfecting their product before hiring an ad agency reshape the brand’s message and image. According to Adam Toporek, “All of the campaigns mentioned above blended… the three legs of the modern marketing stool: traditional advertising, public relations, and online/social. The Turnaround Campaign did not approach public relations in isolation and made sure all campaign components supported its core messages.”
JC Penny, on the other hand, lost market share when trying to turn around losses in sales. Because of his previous experiences at Apple, the new CEO was out of step with the majority of Penny’s shoppers when he rid the retailer of couponing. Some say that bargain hunting is part of a female shopper’s DNA.
The relationship one has to the content determines how the content is received. What could make your message more effective?