10 Simple Ways to Improve Business Communication
Posted by Guest Author on March 13, 2013 in Business Management [ 0 Comments ]
Some companies seem to magically enjoy great communication between management and employees. But there’s no trick involved; they’re likely working hard at it because they understand that good communication improves morale and productivity.
Meanwhile, other firms and small business owners struggle with poor communication, which can ultimately hinder their growth. Fortunately, business communication skills can be learned. Even better, they can be enhanced throughout a career.
Whether you’re a manager ready to improve communication with your staff, peers and bosses, or you own a business and need to sharpen communication with employees, clients and partners, there are some simple strategies that should be of assistance.
1. First, listen: Have you heard the old saying, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason?” People appreciate being heard; it helps them open up. When staff members or colleagues feel that you don’t listen, they will probably give up trying to communicate with you. So, stop checking your cell phone, don’t interrupt others when they’re speaking and always give your complete focus.
2. Avoid getting too personal: Using “I feel” language is appropriate when communicating with a spouse or loved one. But in business, it’s not about feelings. Use factual language, such as “it’s clear,” “we need” or “I will” to make your point firmly and with confidence.
3. Improve your delivery: We often hear, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” In business, effective communication is often more about the delivery than the content. Be direct but sincere, and always look people in the eye because there’s no better way to connect.
4. Don’t let stress get the better of you: Some conversations are unpleasant; they can induce a great deal of stress or even the “flight or fight” response. It’s important to stay in control in these situations. Recognize the signs of stress: tightening in the stomach, flushing in your face or shallow breathing. If appropriate, defuse a tense situation with humor, look for a compromise or simply announce that you’re taking a break for a few minutes to think about it.
5. Hear yourself: How do you sound to others? Do they hear what you’re trying to say or are you revealing more about how you’re feeling? Perhaps your emotions are coming through more strongly than your message. This could prevent others from relating to or respecting you.
6. Ask for feedback: If you’re unsure about how well (or not well) you communicate, ask your employees, partners and business associates what they think. Ask them what you do well and how you can improve, and be open to their input.
7. Put yourself in her or his shoes: Consider what others might be going through. Family worries, a poor performance review or deadline stress can affect anyone. Remember that you’re all on the same team with the same goals. If things get contentious, turn the focus to the bigger picture.
8. Be transparent: Transparency builds trust. Don’t keep others in the dark; provide the information people need to perform their jobs well. Motivate them to meet their goals by sharing company information and decisions.
9. Avoid the gossip machine: It’s easy to vent when you’re stressed but you should seek to avoid burdening others with complaints. If you have a problem with someone, speak to him or her directly.
10. Don’t assume: One of the biggest problems with business communication is making assumptions that you’ve been heard, understood and agreed with. Take responsibility for ensuring that others understand your position, your intentions and your next steps. It’s OK to ask questions like, “Are we clear about why we need to look for a new supplier?”
There’s no doubt that communication is the basis for every aspect of business. Without it, tasks don’t get completed, great ideas don’t get shared and problems don’t get resolved. No matter the size of your company, succeeding in today’s ultracompetitive environment is nearly impossible without stellar communication throughout every level of the operation.
Bio: Ren Lacerda works with Michigan State University and University of Florida covering Leadership & Management topics. You can follow Ren on Twitter at @RenMarketing.