When you talk to people, are you focused on the transaction or your interaction?
Think about it.
A transactional encounter is one where you’re going through the motions to get the task or the discourse done. Maybe you’re texting, talking on the phone to someone else or just dazed and confused. But the bottom line is that you’re not engaged with the other person or the process.
Interaction occurs when two people are engaged in a dialogue or actively participating in the process.
An encounter at a local coffee shop brought the difference to my attention. When I ordered hot tea, the barista was friendly, knowledgeable and quickly helped me make my choice of tea, based on a few questions about my preferences. There was authentic interest, assistance and interaction about helping me with my selection and purchase.
The interaction was so noticeably different from a typical transaction that I actually went to three of their other locations to see if it was a fluke. It wasn’t. The owners clearly have a different strategy for hiring and training people than their competitors – who are focused on the transaction. And as a consumer, it was so refreshing to be engaged in this interaction and on the receiving end of good service!
This is just one example of how effective interaction can affect the outcome. In this case, the local coffee shop has a new loyal customer who is telling others about how great they are.
Theodore Zeldin said “Conversations can change the way you see the world and can even change the world.”
So I ask you this: What are you talking about … and are your conversations focused on the transaction or interaction?
When you are talking to people, are you clear about the purpose of the conversation? Are your thoughts, words and actions aligned with that purpose and the outcomes that you hope to achieve?
If you are focused on the transaction, conversation is minimal because it’s the task that’s important, not the person. Get the job done, move on. The implied message behind the message can be interpreted as “I don’t have time for you or what’s important to you.”
There’s a lot of talk about employee engagement and improving customer satisfaction. Are you really walking the talk or are these terms really just another form of transactional communication?
If you want real employee engagement or customer satisfaction, take a look at the quality of conversations you’re having and are they “transactional” or are you really interacting with them?
So how does one turn the tide from transaction to interaction?
To find out how, be sure to read my blog next week: Transaction versus Interaction Part 2. In the meantime, listen and observe conversations during the next week to see if people are focused on the transaction or really interacting with each other. How does it feel when you’re focused on the transaction and how does it feel when you’re focused on the person? Conversely, how do you feel when you’re on the receiving end of the transaction versus the interaction?
Marty Stanley is a national speaker, author and consultant on personal and organizational change. Call Marty today if you want to change your employee engagement or customer satisfaction: 816-695-5453.
This is a great explanation of transaction vs interaction. In my view, the word transaction is relatively soulless, and yet it predominates in the language of business and is defined as a negotiation often, which it isn’t reality. Negotiation definitely requires interaction. I see the commonly accepted business definition of transaction as being a male dominated construct in business, focusing always on the win, the get, and only on the win/win as a tertiary and almost anecdotal result.