person using keyboard beside phone and coffee cup


Emotion and identity

To effectively communicate with others, you need to consider at least three aspects of communication.

  • Content: What is it that you’re saying? Is it clear and well explained?
  • Emotion: How do the people involved feel about the topic? Are they vested in the topic? Do they care?
  • Identity: How do people think this message reflects on them? Does it make them feel and look competent in the eyes of others? Or do they feel threatened and that it reflects badly on them?

So don’t focus solely on the content. We are human. If you ignore emotions and identity in your day-to-day communications, this can fester into negativity. Instead, be mindful of other’s emotions and identity so you can build stronger relationships.

For sensitive topics, such as providing negative feedback, consider carefully the setting and delivery method considering identity and emotions.

Communicating a product vision

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

Figure out why your product matters and tell that story. Human beings are able to organize and accomplish amazing things when they all believe in a story that is worth pursuing. Try to answer the following questions:

  • What will the future look like with your great product initiative implemented?
  • How will your users benefit?

Tell that story day after day.

Everyone should understand that picture. Everyone in your team should be able to listen to it, understand why it matters, and be inspired to show up every day to help make that vision into reality.

Continuously refine the story as the world around you changes, your users change and your product evolves. Don’t forget to evolve your product story, or soon you will find yourself driving towards a vision that’s no longer needed.

Adapting your story to the audience

Language is a strong unifying force, and when two people speak the same language, it helps them build bridges, build rapport, and accomplish much more than we can imagine.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Nelson Mandela

As a product manager you are trying to speak to and influence people who speak different languages. The language of marketing, the language of engineering, the language of design, the language of partnerships. As you bounce from speaking to one team to the next you translate ideas, thoughts and feelings from one language to the other. The success of your product depends in large part on your ability to coherently bring these ideas together into a coherent strategy.

Build an instinct for how your users will react to your product or feature. Speak their language so you can represent your users in your daily conversations.

Interesting conversations

Replace boring topics with interesting questions

  1. What passion are you working on?
  2. Have you recently met someone really interesting?
  3. Best or worst part of your day so far?
  4. I’m not sure where to go on a vacation, thoughts?
  5. Tell me about your story. I love hearing people’s “Why” stories.

References: 7 Scientifically Proven Steps to Increase your Influence