Effective Communication can improve your business!
I am amazed and I really shouldn’t be.
But from business to business, workplace to workplace, Small Business Owner to Small Business Owner, they all had the same nagging problem. Effective communication.
The reasons for their communication problems are many but the one reason that I find most common is that they pay little or no attention to developing their interpersonal skills and those of their teams. Yes...they concentrate on building their businesses and pay little or no attention to their personal development.
As far as communication skills go, here is the sad part. Small business people don't (want to) understand that using effective communication strategies can help them build strong relationships. Yes...with clients and customers, team members, managers, internal customers, competitors and even “frenemies.”
Are you unhappy with the way you communicate? Do people constantly misunderstand what you say? Does your "effective communication" threaten you business relationships? Well…this post is for you.
Here are 10 cool communication strategies for your business world. But guess what? You will find them useful in any area of your life where and when communicating effectively is important.
Ready? Here goes…
1. Focus on issues, not personalities, when you discuss work-related matters
When I advise people to do this, there’s always someone who will tell me I've just never met their boss, or customer, or CSR, or (you fill in the blank) ___. That may be true and it may also be true that that person might just be a bully.
But you must focus on the issues and communicate with respect in every interaction. Whether you like the person or not. This will speak volumes for your maturity as a person. It will also establish you as the consummate professional who engages in effective communication, in every situation.
2. Be direct and sincere as your default communication position
Are you one of those people who say “yes” when you really don’t mean it? And do you often try to say what you think people want to hear?
Stop that right now!
Instead, state your concerns directly and sincerely. And when you do, suggest alternatives as to what you think will work better in the situation.
You will earn far more respect from you colleagues or employees when you do this than if you engage in doublespeak.
3. Listen more than you talk, especially in sales situations
There are two main reasons you will be tempted to talk too much when you are pitching an idea or selling something. One is because you think you haven’t made your point well. The other is usually you know so much about the topic and can’t identify what is important to the situation.
If this is the case, you have to up your game, as listening goes. The real problem is that you’re talking too much, for whatever the reason. A better approach is first to listen for the client’s pain or problem. Then focus on providing them with a solution that can solve it. That's how effective communication works.
4. As much as possible, listen without passing judgment
Have you ever had to communicate with someone who knew the answers to the issues, even before you had a chance to discuss them?
If you’re a manager or leader and this is your default 'effective communication' position, then you need a communication re-set.
Here is what you should do. Listen to what is being said, even if you believe you've heard it all before. Then give feedback on what you have heard and encourage your employees to think of likely solutions.
Communicating in this way not only earns you the respect of your staff, it also improves human relations in the workplace and lets them know that you understand effective communication.
5. Use effective communication to improve performance
Those of you who have responsibility for HR in your business are especially required to communicate effectively.
But far too often, you are inclined to make statements such as “I’m so disappointed in you!” or "you are capable of doing so much better than this..." You believe this is effective communication and it would motivate an employee to change behavior.
You are wrong.
Effective communication requires you to give focused feedback instead of opinionated criticism, when you are attempting to improve workplace performance.
Instead, suspend your judgement. Identify the specific behavior which needs to be improved, share this with the employee and discuss how you can solve the problem together.
6. Go directly to the person to work out problems instead of using e-mail
This should be a no-brainer except for the presence of cowards in the workplace.
Discussing and solving problems in a meaningful way require you to understand body language...for starters. Then you need to interpret vocal tones. And above all you need the opportunity to receive and give feedback immediately.
An email facilitates none of these. And when it is blind-copied to a person who is not involved, you escalate it to the level of maliciousness.
To improve you communication, next time, try doing a face-to-face instead of email.
7. Do not attempt to soften a point when addressing tough or sensitive issues
This approach should not be an excuse for being rude, abusive or belligerent.
What it should be, is a chance for you to demonstrate your most effective communication ever.
So be direct, constructive, and straightforward so that your message and its importance come across clearly and respectfully.
Addressing tough or sensitive issues in this manner also guarantees that even when people don’t agree with you, they still respect you and your position.
8. Don’t attempt to solve a problem by starting a shouting match
This seems to be hard to resist for many small business owners.
You have to fill a “make or break my business” order and one of your employees fouls up, again. The temptation to scream at him or her is at an all-time high…and who can blame you. But resist that temptation.
Focus your energies on addressing the problem. Communicate a solution to the team in simple and clear language so that implementing it will be easy. In other words, fix the problem first and deal with the ‘who” afterwards.
When you deal with the “who”, be equally judicious in your choice of words, tone and volume.
I know from experience that the effective communication process and the integrity of the team are enhanced when you address the problem in this manner.
9. Don’t push your idea while disregarding concerns others have with it
Not only is this an indication of poor communication, it’s also an abuse of power.
Instead, listen to and acknowledge the concerns of others and address them. Sometimes the best way to gain support for an idea which others have reservations about is to listen to those concerns.
10. Don't use a "One-Size-Fits-All" approach to communication
I cringe whenever I hear a business person declare: “What you see is what you get!” or “This is me, I can’t change!”
This is usually your excuse for using a particular style of communication in every circumstance. Regardless of whoever you are communicating with.
Why not exchange your approach for that of a smart communicator?
Smart communicators know that in delivering a message you have to consider the receiver of that message. The more you can fashion the message to suit the needs of the receiver the better your chances of your message hitting the target.
Now over to you...
So there you have them! 10 cool effective communication strategies.
You can begin using them immediately to improve your communication skills. At work and at work. Come on, this is not beyond you. You don’t have to distinguish yourself because of poor communication skills.
You can build strong business relationships with effective communication!
To your communication success...
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