How do people make decisions? Individuals learn from a very early age to make “mental maps” of the world in order to take in a seemingly overwhelming amount of information. In the process, the mental maps we have created become part of our unconscious, and then they run us. We begin to operate out of a particular point of view.

When it comes to making decisions, we all have a filter, a tendency toward a particular way of looking at the world. One of the ways we divide the world in order to make sense of it is by breaking things down into five categories: people, places, things, activities and information.

Each of us has a particular way that we are motivated, and part of that unique pattern is to be found in those five categories.

For example, I say to all of you, “Let’s go to Rome.” Everyone agrees, so we decide to go to Rome. But what motivated each of us?

Some of you thought, “It would be great to interact with the Roman people,” while others thought, “I can’t wait to see that place.” Yet others said to themselves, “There are so many great things I can buy in Rome.” Or some of you just like the idea of travel and you love the activity for its own sake.

Finally, some are like me and think, “I can’t wait to learn more about Roman history.” We all agree to go to Rome, but our reasons for making that decision are entirely different.

When you go to present a solution, something you believe provides great value, your unconscious tendency is to frame it in the context of what “makes you decide what you decide.”

I have watched some very senior sales people try to convince someone of something using his own filter, not the other person’s. I remember one example where the salesperson kept going on and on about why “the management team made such a good investment” and how important it was to “invest in people.”

Meanwhile, the other person was someone who sorted the world by information and what mattered to him was the data.

As you go through your week, begin to listen for this level of hidden communication. In casual conversation, try asking people, “How did you decide that?” or “How did you choose that?” What you want to listen for in their answer is: Do they talk about people, places, things, an activity or information?

Sometimes, you will find that a person will mention two of the filters in a phrase such as, “I decided to become a doctor because my dad was in medicine and I enjoy helping people.”

As we can see, this example is all about people. When facilitating the decision-making process, at the conclusion of a conversation it would be important, in this case, to talk about people.

By possessing this way of seeing things, you can become more aware of all of the amazing information all around you.

Over time you become more adept at recognizing different styles of decision-making and can begin shifting your own style to accommodate the needs of the buyer.

Remember, in the communications picture, the client or prospect is the “reference point.” It is not his job to understand us; it is our job to understand him.

To do our job, we must learn to translate what we know about our subject to those who would receive the highest value from our services. It is this role as translator that we begin to understand the need for real focus and “attention” in our communication process.

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