In a previous chapter I spoke about the challenges that arise when you and the client mean different things even when you’re speaking the same words. Here I want to consider another case of miscommunication: When you and the client are simply talking past one another. You might as well be in two different rooms having a conversation with someone else.

Some time ago, my wife and I went to see the musical Les Misérables. It was a wonderful experience. The show, which has been playing on Broadway for decades, was moving and uplifting to both of us. We found deeply compelling moments in the story of the hero, Jean Valjean, who spends his whole life atoning for his one act of weakness, pursued by ...

Get Secrets of Selling Services: Everything You Need to Sell What Your Customer Can’t See—from Pitch to Close now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.