Don’t Make This Mistake in a Business Conversation – Choosing the Wrong Starting Place

Posted on: April 3rd, 2019 by Jen Mueller

Years ago, one of the presentation decks I used started with a red dot on the first slide. That was it. Just a red dot. Big enough that you could see what it was, but without any context for the audience. The second slide revealed the full picture, and the audience discovered they were looking at a bullseye.

Those slides helped underscore the importance of context, perspective and starting from the same point of reference. It was obvious to everyone in the room what the red dot was when I flipped back to the first slide, but only because they were all on the same page and had just seen the same thing.

Just like with the bullseye, sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture and the fact that not everyone is seeing or hearing things the same way we are. It’s obvious that looking at a red dot without any context is confusing, but are you aware of how often that happens in conversations?

When get dialed in and focused, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone else isn’t in the same place. They haven’t been problem-solving the client issue that came up this morning. They don’t feel compelled to take immediate action on what was discussed in the staff meeting. They aren’t obsessed with email discussion that’s gone around the office.

Everyone is in to their own thing. So, you can’t assume people are starting from the same point of reference in a conversation. If you do, you could be adding to the confusion and communication breakdowns at work.

Take a look at the video and see what my shoes and Gatorade have to do with this conversation, then consider how to give colleagues the context and perspective they need to have a productive conversation.

Effective communicators avoid confusion by starting from the same point of reference. You can do that by verbally referencing a previous conversation or situation. Click To Tweet


Key Takeaway:

Effective communicators avoid confusion by starting from the same point of reference.

Jen Mueller is a badass at business communication. She’s spent nearly 20 years in sports broadcasting and knows what effective communication sounds like. Her experience in professional locker rooms provides a unique take on business communication. Jen is a member of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team and the sideline radio reporter for the Seattle Seahawks. Hire Jen to speak for your next conference, event or training. Email: