Communication myths abound everywhere, and the business world is no exception. Sometimes, all it takes is a communication faux pas to derail negotiations on your way to close a really profitable deal. Each one of us comes from a different background, and we all have subjective ideas on what constitutes good communication. That being said, there are golden rules of communication that must be observed if you want to get ahead in the business world, as well as those that you must stay away from to avoid the pariah label in your business circles.
Myth #1. Communication Can Solve Any Problem
Many business owners would like to think that simply conveying a point in a clear manner will end in the resolution of an issue they may be having with employees or clients. This couldn’t be farther than the truth because of the subjective reality we all live in. What you say may be construed by someone else as standoffish or cold based on their perception, culture and mood at the time that conversation took place. In addition, a lot of things are lost in translation, especially if done over the phone, email or text. It’s important to ask the other person questions to make sure they fully understood what you meant to convey. In addition, make an effort to have a face-to-face chat (or at the very least, a visual conference call) in order to pick up on body language, behavioral cues and anything else which might help you tailor your words to increase communication effectiveness.
Myth #2. Diplomatic Communication Is Always Best
Nobody wants to be the guy who rocks the boat, effectively scaring others away. In an effort to keep the other party engaged and friendly, a lot of us will try to be diplomatic and even speak in metaphors and indirect terms. While this won’t frazzle any nerves, you may end up confusing the other party and wasting valuable time. Being diplomatic is a good asset; that being said, you want to make sure that you are clear and direct without being crass. If you find yourself having to convey news that is hard to swallow, ask someone from human resources to craft a small written piece for you that you can reword and rehearse before having the hard conversation.
Myth #3: Silence Is a Golden
If you head a sales team, you might train your staff to give the customer time to formulate an answer to a question posed to them. While this might seem logical and the only natural thing to do, it might actually be counterproductive. This is because silence could be due to the other party not really understanding the question, them being offended by it, or being caught off-guard. It’s better to reformulate the question or inquiry in a different way if you’re met with silence on the other end of the phone line since this will jump-start the conversation in a better way than simply waiting for the other person to revert back with an answer.
Let’s now take a look at some of the fundamental tips of good business communication:
Ask Insightful Questions
Whether you’re speaking with a prospective client or your own employee, you want to make it seem that you care and that you are looking to resolve a certain problem on the table. Asking insightful questions provides you with key data that you can use in the communication process going forward as well as makes the other person more comfortable and willing to divulge more information in the future. For instance, questions about their work situation, what they are looking to achieve as a person or organization during that business year, what their goals and vision can give you a holistic light with which you can shine further inquiries down the road.
Always Add Value
Humans are primed to look for solutions to their problems; it is a large part of our survival instinct. When you prove yourself to be valuable and useful to someone, they are more often than not likely to come back to you in a habit-forming manner. If your employees keep coming to you with work-related issues, do your best to resolve them since this frees them up psychically to give their best when it comes to their job. If you’re looking to land a new client with whom you are having talks, ask them to give you a trial period or free samples of your product to see how well your product or service can solve some of their biggest problems.
Feedback is Paramount
People live for recognition. Positive reinforcement will get you more of what you need, so make sure to give your clients and employees as much balanced positive feedback as possible. In addition, make sure to address problems in the correct manner by pointing out what exactly about the problem it is that you don’t like as well as asking if the other party could give you the steps they intend to take to rectify it as well as what caused it in the first place. The more information you have, the better you are able to handle a situation that can gridlock operations.
Workplace Transparency Fosters Trust and Boosts Productivity
It is important to make your employees feel like co-owners of your business. One of the ways in which you can do this is to adopt an open door policy where they can ask any business-related question under the sun and get clear and truthful answers. In addition, make financial records open to scrutiny and examination since this will help employees feel like there are no potentially subversive secrets in the organization and that their job security is guaranteed due to the availability of funds to pay them. Lastly, consider letting employees vote on important issues such as bonuses, health insurance and more since this will help them develop a sense of loyalty which will see your company moving forward as an unbreakable unit.
Communication is everything; knowing how to handle this delicate art can mean transform your business into a flourishing, profitable corporation.