Shaking up normality

When is the last time you had a milkshake?

"Wish there was a fish and chip shop nearby, so I could get a milkshake...", seemed to be a very normal statement – in my opinion.

But I cannot assume that my normal is someone else's normal.

My foretold statement was entirely bizarre in the eyes of my Swiss friend. To him, fish and chips is an English pub meal, and the last thing he would pair with a milkshake. These two ideas just didn't align for him. (You should have seen his bewilderment grow as I then said I'd consume these items at the beach!).

We so often take "our normal" for, well … normal. All the while forgetting that for those with a different context to our own, their brain does not make the same associations between ideas. I want a fish and chip shop milkshake in a Longest Drink in Town cup, and he just can't put fish and chips and milkshakes in the same category.

Sometimes explanations are necessary, even when you don't think they are.

As businesses, we have our own internal terminologies that are "our normal". We have products and ideas that we know inside out. To us, the definitions are clear and our products are easy to understand. But our customers aren't sitting at our desks every day, poring over each minute detail.

Projecting “our normal” is exactly what might trip us up when communicating with prospects or customers.

We must always remember to consider communication, by their terms:

When establishing a working relationship with customers, it will pay to check that your goals align. Otherwise the relationship may ultimately fall through. Discuss what “success” means to them, and what “normal” communication looks like to you both.

When preparing marketing and communication with customers (including website and social media content), assess whether you are using industry and workplace jargon, or whether you need to do a rewrite in layman's terms.

Remember, normality is entirely objective You definitely never want your customers to feel alienated, or have both parties creating expectations that the other isn't aware of.

It pays to never assume, and it’s always advisable to stand back for a bit of perspective.

(I'd never admit to my friend that I've since realised fish and chips with a milkshake is a strange – but delicious - combination. I will at least thank him for the perspective.)

Image above courtesy of Toa Heftiba


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