Every day of our lives we’re communicating with people. Unless you’re a hermit living in a cave somewhere (in which case, it’s surprising that you’re reading this at all), communication is probably a regular part of your existence. From long days at work to a quick run to the grocery store, communication helps us all make things work together.
In the context of your business, communicating well is even more important than it is elsewhere. How can you make sure you’re getting your point across? Are your communication habits helping or hurting?
To run an effective business, you need an effective communication strategy. Here are a few ways to start building that or to improve on what you’re already doing.
Utilizing the Right Tech
Business communication is done through so many different channels, e.g., e-mail, SMS, or social media. Whatever your clients or your company use, take the time to master the tech. You should be able to use it exactly as you need to without any awkward pauses.
A great example is teleconferencing. How many times have you spent the first 5 minutes of a teleconference trying to explain to someone how to mute/unmute their mic, turn their camera on, share their screen, or otherwise use the basic features of the video call software? It’s a frustrating process for everyone. Don’t be part of that problem.
Learn the ins and outs of the tech you and your company use to get messages back and forth. Even if you have to take the time to go through a tutorial or training course to learn about the features and how to use them, it’s better to get this over with to speed up your use of the tech in the future.
This applies to everything you need to communicate and collaborate effectively. Whether you’re just making video calls or you’re using screen recording software, webinar software, collaborative apps, instant messaging apps, and social media, it’s worth the upfront time to figure out how to use that tech to best suit your communication needs. Once you know what you’re doing, you won’t be wasting your time or anyone else’s trying to learn as you go.
Putting Away Assumptions
We all operate with some basic assumptions in mind. We assume the people we’re talking to understand some basic level of information. However, our assumptions often overreach to the point where we assume someone knows something they shouldn’t be expected to know.
For the most efficient business communications, limit the assumptions you make. Here are a few things you should never just assume you or the other person knows:
- Industry Jargon
- Transactional History
Open communication can help you establish where you and the person you’re communicating withstand. Rather than making assumptions about what they feel, know, need, or expect, ask questions and open a conversation to find the truth. Once you’ve sorted out the truth, you can move on from there with a solid foundation.
Assumptions only lead to misunderstandings. Depending on how large the misunderstanding is, you could end up in a lot of hot water with clients, coworkers, superiors, or anyone else.
The Art of Timing
We always talk about the importance of HOW you communicate, but WHEN you communicate is an undervalued aspect. When someone is heading out the door at the end of the day is the wrong time to grab them for an important last-minute briefing, just like the early morning is likely not the right time for long, drawn-out meetings.
Set up the right environment for the conversation and have it at the right time. This tends to be more of an art than an exact science. Timing is difficult, but a few things stay constant:
- Let the other person know about important communications ahead of time
- Plan the appropriate space for a meeting
- Feel out the other person’s openness to an idea before continuing with it
If you’re in the right place at the right time and everyone involved has some idea of the agenda, you’re likely to have a more productive conversation. Timing is most important for essential communication, not as much for every day back and forth between employees.
Make sure you consider timing before essential communications. When things are heard at the right moment, they are easier to remember and are taken more seriously.
Being a Better Listener
Communication is a two-way street. Even if you’re the one sending out a million long emails to your team every week, that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to say to you that’s worth hearing. If you want to learn to communicate better, spend time learning how to listen to understand.
Listening to understand goes a step past just listening. Instead of planning what you’re going to say next time there’s a break in the conversation, open your mind and pay attention to what the other person is saying to you. If you don’t understand it 100% (remember, no assumptions!), ask clarifying questions to nip any misunderstandings in the bud.
If you focus on understanding what the other person is trying to communicate to you, you’ll be able to respond more effectively. This is going to prevent you from having the same conversation multiple times.
Emotion Isn’t the End
We like to think that business is without emotion. If the business were conducted by robots that might be true, but since there are people involved, we always have to account for feelings. However, a feeling or an emotion isn’t where a conversation ends. Understanding how someone feels about something points towards the end, but it’s usually not the actual endpoint itself.
Emotions tend to point towards problems or things that need further attention. If someone is unhappy, unsatisfied, or otherwise displeased, start the process of communicating to figure out the “why” behind the emotion. Work to find a solution that makes sense in the context.
Whatever you do, don’t settle for uncovering an emotion and leaving it as it is.
Understanding Your Nonverbal Communication
A lot of people claim that nonverbal communication matters far more than what you say. This is probably not entirely true, but it does put some much-needed emphasis on nonverbal communication.
Do you know how you communicate nonverbally? What are your normal characteristics? What impressions do you give people when you’re communicating? It’s good to get some insight about how people see you so you’re aware of what signals you’re putting out, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Your body language and tone of voice matter when you’re trying to communicate. Be introspective and find out what your natural tone and body language are so you can be more effective at changing it when you want to send a different message.
Above all, good communication takes patience. If you’re rushing to get your point across without paying attention to how you’re communicating, you’re not going to be as efficient or as effective as you want to be.
Developing good communication habits takes time, but the dividends of that time invested are going to benefit you for the rest of your career.
Andreyana Kulina is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Brosix, specializing in Content marketing and outreach strategies. Besides her passion for digital marketing, she likes hiking and mountain biking.