Green Means Go. Red Means Stop.

April 5, 2011

Twice in the last five days I have eaten Brazilian Churrascaria. Yes, I know, it should be illegal to consume that much meat in such a short time period and we won’t even mention the sangria intake.  If you have ever dined in one of these restaurants, then you probably used the go/stop method where they provide you with gadget with a green and a red side. If you want more meat, you flip it to the green side. Once you feel like you have eaten enough to satisfy your hunger for the next month, you simply turn the dial to red and they stop feeding you. It’s so simple. Green means yes, red means no.

Wouldn’t it be great if every type of communication were so simple? Wouldn’t it be great if you could understand what your clients wanted from you by a simple red or green button? If you are a speaker, how would you feel if the audience were able to give you immediate feedback while you were presenting with an easy to understand system. Would you be able to quickly change your content to meet the needs of those who are trying to learn from you? Event professionals, how would you respond when your attendees cried “red?” If you are an association, how do you take the temperature of your members?

Since real life communication is not a neat and tidy as red or green, here are some thoughts on how you can get better feedback from your clients, prospects, attendees or even your friends. If you want to know how to communicate better with your partner, talk to Dr. John Gray. That’s not my department.

  1. Ask them. Conduct regular client interviews, focus groups or simply take them to lunch and have an informal chat. Talking works just as well for client relationships as it does for friendships.
  2. Follow-up on surveys. We often survey clients or event attendees, but how often do we follow up on the feedback that we received. A conversation can reveal a lot more than reading a piece of paper.
  3. Social media based feedback. Are you listening to online conversations for clues about what you are doing right or what your competitors are doing wrong? Are you arming event participants with a Twitter hashtag to easily share their feedback with you and other attendees (this is the closest green/red equivalent that I can think of)? Are you reading the blogs of your target market to see what matters to them?

Unfortunately, most human interaction is not black and white (or red and green). Relationships are complex and require listening and feedback. What are you doing to communicate better with those who matter to you and your business?

P.S. I’m going to be a vegetarian for the next month.