Every human communication can be visualized as a set of layers, each of which communicates a different type of information.
All six have value, although the first is often overrated:
- Layer #1: Content -- the actual vocabulary of the words spoken. Example: "Yes, we have a problem" means exactly that... that the prospect is saying he has a problem.
- Layer #2: Phonetic -- the specific enunciation and tone of the words spoken. Example: "Yes, we have a problem." means something different form "YES! WE HAVE A PROBLEM!"
- Layer #3: Purpose -- the reason or point that is trying to be communicated. For example, a prospect who wants information versus a prospect wants reassurance that a rep can be trusted.
- Layer #4: Word Catalog -- the emotional meaning a person associates with specific words. Example: A prospect who uses profanity to emphasize anger vs. one who does so out of habit.
- Layer #5: Internal Dialog -- the never-ending chatter of thoughts in the mind. Example: the prospect is thinking about an upcoming date, wondering whether he'd be happier elsewhere, etc.
- Layer #6: Physical -- the manifestation of all of the above in expressions, breathing and gestures. Example: The prospect is puffing and waving his hands excitedly in the air.
Therefore, if you want to understand what's really going on in a conversation with a prospect, you need to open yourself up to the entire range of communication and "sense" what's actually being said, regardless of the content.