The Bible comes up in it, but it's not a religious story. We'll get to that in a minute.
Instead, let's start with the fact that my accountant is one of my best friends. His name is Griff, and we met in college. After graduation, he passed the CPA exam and took over his father's firm.
He's been doing my taxes for quite a while now, and he's really good at what he does, but there are two things to know:
- First, I'm probably small potatoes for his firm, but he keeps me around out of friendship, loyalty, and maybe a bit of nostalgia.
- Second, I haven't been the best client. I pay the bill promptly, which is important. But I admit that I am always late getting all my stuff together and sending it over.
It's all anxiety and procrastination on my part, but it winds up meaning that my friend's firm has to do my taxes at the last minute.
This year was a perfect example, but after I finally sent everything over and we filed the forms and paid what was due, Griff texted me: "Just sent you something via Amazon. Do not open until we talk."
Two days later, I got a package that clearly contained a book. I wondered what it might be: some kind of calendar or journal or self-help title? But I was true to my word and waited until we were on the phone.
"OK," Griff said. "Open it."
Inside, I found a brand new, shrink-wrapped, straight-from-the publisher edition of the Holy Bible.
"Now," he said, "I want you to put your phone on speaker, put your left hand on the Bible, raise your right hand, and repeat after me."
I was laughing. But I did as instructed, and he continued:
I, Bill Murphy Jr., do solemnly swear that in 2022, I will break my streak of leaving my tax prep to the last minute, and I will instead compile and transfer all of my documents by the end of January, mid-February at the latest, so that my good friend Griff, who is not getting any younger, will not have them on his plate at the end of tax season, when time is short and his days are already long enough as it is.
I loved it. Frankly, I began composing this story in my mind immediately, because I realized that my friend had just taught a master class in how to communicate with people effectively by using emotional intelligence -- especially in tricky situations.
To be honest, I think he's asked me in years past to get my things together earlier, but while I've had the best of intentions, it's never stuck. That's on me, but the twist is that Griff can't really fire me as a client.
I mean, he could, but he wouldn't because we're friends, and then who would he hang out with at our college reunion next year?
Instead, he had to come up with a way to make the message memorable and effective. What he chose was a key rule of emotional intelligence: communicating via multiple attentions.
It's really a matter of crafting a message so that it plays on several different emotional zones -- thus making it more memorable and crowding out the competing messages people receive all the time.
So, consider the send-a-Bible idea, and how it played masterfully on my emotions and reactions.
- First, it created anticipation. I wondered what he was sending me, and why.
- Second, it leveraged humor. I was smiling and laughing throughout the entire interaction.
- Third, it involved visual senses. I mean, it's a Bible. I opened it and wondered: Why is he sending this to me? The Bible is now on my desk; I can't throw it out. So now every time I look at it, it reminds me that I have to do my tax prep on time.
- Fourth, it introduced an element of physicality. I had to stop what I was doing and focus on what my friend asked of me, because he walked me through the motions of literally swearing an oath.
- Finally, it had an auditory component. He didn't just send it with a note saying, "I want you to swear on this Bible"; instead, he got me on the phone for five minutes.
Look, one of the hardest things in any important communication is knowing whether the people you're communicating with are truly hearing what you have to say. It's at the heart of emotional intelligence, which is all about leveraging emotions to help you achieve goals.
It's why I spend so much time in my free e-book 9 Smart Habits of People With Very High Emotional Intelligence explaining simple techniques that people can use to ensure their messages are received and understood.
And it's why this one jumped right out at me, even as Griff was using it. (It's so good that I think it will get a mention in the new edition of the book when it comes out next month.)
If we wanted to be academic or technical, we might call this a "multiple attention strategy" or "multi-sensory communication tactics."
But in homage to my friend Griff, I think we'll stick with the "Send a Bible Rule."
You might not literally send a Bible. But I'll bet that this way, you're much more likely to remember it.