Tin can phone and businessman

Effective communication comes from a deeper understanding of your own perceptions and the perceptions of others. For example, communicating value means different things to different people. I am continually learning the distinction between “expensive” and “valuable.” I think it is human nature to assume that as price increases, value must inherently increase as well. We know that is not always the case, but that it depends on how each individual perceives things differently.

Calculating the value of things you do every single day may be the first place you go naturally or the last. Either way, this idea is a major engine in your decision-making machine. You are running this ever-prevalent and simplified formula in your head, no matter if you’re buying a car or a candy bar:


The basic logic: when this formula comes out to be greater than 1.00, you are getting more benefit than the cost. Both variables may seem straightforward, but that is where our preferences come in. You will perceive costs differently depending on if you include details such as hidden fees, opportunity costs and the cost of your time. Or you may calculate the cost just as what is on the price tag. You may also calculate the intangible benefit of experience or connection. Each one is fine because you are determining what the value of something is to you and to you alone.

Another aspect of this concept is the fact that on any given item, you can spend any amount of money making it either cheap, expensive or valuable. Take a simple t-shirt for example. Here is one for $7.99, very cheap. Here is one for $213,000, very expensive. However, the man who bought the $213,000 shirt called the purchase a “dream come true,” and fulfilled one of his “greatest passions.” These claims makes it valuable to him, and him alone based on his personal approach.

The value formula applies to our business world in everyday settings. Communication will be more effective the more you understand perceptions and the more you tailor your interactions accordingly. Let’s take a look at how you can do that in a few different scenarios:

  • As an employee: if you’re asking for a raise, show why you should get one. Identify the return your boss will get if they pay you more. This isn’t about you, it is about how they are perceiving the value you bring.
  • As a trainer/facilitator: don’t just tell someone they need to attend a workshop “because you said so.” Instead, focus on the why they should attend through all of the extra benefits they will receive. Understand some of the takeaways from the workshop and highlight them to your team.
  • As a manager or leader: sometimes your time can be the most valuable thing to an employee. This allows them to have an opportunity to discuss their role, special projects, showcase their expertise, etc. If you can provide value to your team just by having a 30 minute coffee, that’s well worth it!

No matter if you are trying to communicate value to members of your team, or trying to understand it better for yourself, first understand how you perceive value or how your audience perceives it. This will make for much more efficient interactions and effective communication.

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