EXPERIENCED-BASED PERSPECTIVE ON COMMUNICATIONS
- Speak to the common person and you will be understood by most. Speak to your peers and you may be understood by only a few.
If you communicate technical information and concepts in a fashion the lay person on the street can grasp and understand, you will be more successful over time at transmitting your message to more people.
- The three most important concepts to retail business before the internet were “Location, Location, and Location”, and the three most important keys to business communications are “Listen, Listen, and Listen.”
We all want to be heard. To be an effective communicator, you must actively aspire to hear what others have to say, and be willing to appreciate their point of view. Then, you must clearly demonstrate you heard and understood what they have presented. (Number 3 below, applies after you have learned to be a good listener.)
- Ask questions, before you start speaking, to ensure you understand the other person’s story completely.
Always remain open. Never stop learning and pursuing the truth. There will be adequate time to get your two cents worth in at an appropriate point in the conversation.
- Sort out BFF. (Beliefs vs. Feeling vs. Facts.)
To fully comprehend another person’s position, distinguish between the facts they present, the beliefs they hold, and the feelings they express. Remember the interpretation and meaning of the exact same facts often vary widely among individuals, based upon such things as their perspective and motivation.
- Say what you mean, mean what you say.
Take the time to concisely articulate what you really need to convey, especially in writing. This is clearly a developed skill. With the ambiguities of language, it is easy to have your message misinterpreted.
- Would I buy a used car from that person?
In the vast majority of circumstances, it is best to give others the benefit of the doubt. However, natural instincts and feelings can sometimes assist your communications skills by providing feedback. Be vigilant to warning signs. Unfortunately, there are individuals who will intentionally misrepresent the truth to promote their own agendas.
- What do you talk about at lunch, or when you socialize with your co-workers: people, events, or ideas and concepts?
Those who focus their conversations and energy on ideas and concepts are often the ones who bring forth new innovations, profound ideas, and meaningful change to fruition.
- Encourage, expect, reward, and be totally open to: discussion, honest challenges, dissenting opinions, and new ideas which will allow your group to fully explore all realistic opportunities.
Actively engage each member of your group to participate in discussions. As important, seek to explore any underlying issue(s) when someone is having trouble coming on-board. Honestly caring enough to get to the bottom of their concern(s) may help to bring them along. It might also help to shine a light on an important point they have been quietly chewing on.
- Know when to facilitate a group conversation.
Time is money. It is your responsibility to bring the discussion back to the task at hand and sense when to put side-tracking issues on a “to do” list for later consideration.
- Be transparent to all when others are correct and/or you were mistaken.
Willingly acknowledge another’s accuracy and/or your own errors. In so doing, everyone will trust you are open to challenges in your pursuit of the truth and in seeking to accomplish your mission. “Coming Clean” always builds credibility.
- Walk the talk. Be truthful. Be consistent. Be on point.
One of the worst things you can do is speak out of both sides of your mouth.
- Actions speak louder than words.
Some people get things done, others pontificate, or take credit. Make sure when the discussions have been adequate, you become the doer, the torch bearer, the motivator, and openly give credit where due.
- Endeavor to be positive and upbeat in all discussions.
Focus and frame your discussions on: organizational goals, objectives, mission, and core ideology. Accentuate and foster: cooperation, problem solving, teamwork – across all boundaries, creativeness, enthusiasm, and optimism. Always seek to improve customer service and relationships, (both internal and external).
- Never argue or debate.
Even if you win the debate, you lose, because the other person comes away embarrassed, or wounded, and often times more entrenched in their position. Seek ways, even when you truly disagree, to move the discussion to a positive outcome. Attempt to explore areas of common ground and agreement between both parties, which will build trust and more open discussion on the points in conflict.
- When you have a critically important message to deliver: 1) write it down, 2) deliver it orally, 3) hand it to the other person on paper, and 4) make them articulate back to you what you just said.
- Never rely solely on oral conversations for any business transactions.
- In conflict or disagreement, conduct your conversations in a manner which shows respect and protects the dignity of all people involved.
In doing so, when the smoke has cleared, the healing can hopefully begin sooner than later.
- Request, imply, mentor, ask questions, seek input, coach, or make suggestions.
Avoid giving orders unless you have no other choice.
Keep it sweet, simple, and to the point.