Gary walks by Larry on a jobsite. Gary gives Larry a hearty hello and even asks how he’s doing. Larry responds with a head nod and a “good, thanks.” Gary is left wondering what’s wrong with Larry, while Larry wonders why Gary is always so loud. That’s because they both communicate differently, and one way is not better than the other. That was one of the lessons I took away from two presentations at Lawn & Landscape’s Top 100 Executive Summit and Awards Dinner last month.

Both of our speakers, Dr. Jermaine Davis and Dave Mitchell, have studied communication for years and were the keynote speakers at the event. That lesson — that not everyone communicates or wants to be communicated with like I do — was a key take away for me. Here are a few more lessons I took away from the presentations.

Brian Horn, editor, Lawn & Landscape

Look ahead. Davis says feedback is important, but we lose sight of what he calls “feedforward.” Feedback lets people know what they got wrong, feedforward is about inspiration and aspiration. “Here’s how you position yourself for success next time.”

Ask the right question. In an interview, Mitchell recommends asking a candidate, “Tell me about a time you disappointed your boss, your parents or your teachers?” During the answer, they can either take ownership of the mistake or blame someone else. Who do you want working at your company?

Listen up. Davis says there are three goals to listening: To demonstrate respect, to hear the person out and to seek to understand. But none of that means you have to agree with each other. It just means you have created enough space for the other person to share their perspective.

“That lesson — that not everyone communicates or wants to be communicated with like I do — was a key take away for me.”

Remember perspective. Mitchell says we are all delusional because we all develop how we see the world through the experiences we have. “We are all living in our own private island,” he says. Two people can have exactly the same experience but walk out with different feelings about the situation.

You can read more about Davis’ presentation and Mitchell’s in the August issue of Lawn & Landscape. – Brian Horn