As a salesperson, have you ever wondered about how your language sounds to your prospects? On a November day in 1969, Janis Joplin, was accused of vulgar and indecent language in Tampa, Florida. Historically, the word vulgar didn’t carry the meaning of offensiveness but meant more lacking refinement; let’s focus on refinement in sales conversations. Have you wondered about the tone of you communicate or don’t communicate? Your attitude and tone In Albert Mehrabian’s book, Silent Messages, he is very clear in his research that 86% of the time people trust more the tone of your voice than your actual words, particularly when you are communicating emotions and attitudes. In other words, people get more about your attitude from the tone than your actual words. How is your tone? Confident? Assuring? Enthusiasm? Or do you have limiting beliefs in your sales reluctance that are communicating more uncertainty, doubt or wariness? Consider that how you feel influences your vocal cords to change everything from pitch to tone. So monitor your feelings before you speak. The phrases and tone salespeople use Robert Bacal of Bacal & Associates suggests that some generally spoken phrases suggest meanings that imply negativity from insulting to pressure to being patronizing. Consider the phrase, “I can’t understand that you …” and go on with what you want to say to your prospect. It can be heard as insulting. Or what about, “You should …” and you go on telling the prospect what they “should” do. It can imply pressure. Or a phrase that can be interpreted as patronizing, “Now you do understand if you wait…” Well; that could be pressure and patronizing. Even an innocent, “How are you?” may come across as non-caring. A salesperson’s non-verbal communication Nonverbal communication includes facial expressions, gestures, posture, and even tone of voice. When your words are incongruent with your non-verbals, the effectiveness of your message can be affected. It was the 1992 Richmond debate between George H. Bush and Bill Clinton. While Bush’s word are recorded they are often forgotten. But his seemingly innocent gesture of looking at his watch is still remembered. And this year, 2008, Sarah Palin winked more than any other politician and found that non-verbal was regularly picked up with political satirists. What are the implications for salespeople? First, awareness of the power of communications other than your words is key. Next, become aware of how your own beliefs are affecting your communications. Finally, if you note how prospects respond to your questions, your presentations and your asking them for a decision, you will uncover positive or negative feedback. It was lucky that Joplin was accused as she was in 1969 so if she wanted, she could choose better language. It’s not likely that salespeople will get similar comments. Be your own accuser and be aware, listen and correct any ineffective communications.