Communication is possibly the most generic word used in business. And ‘better communication’ is the bog-standard thing virtually every company needs to improve on. Or at least if they did it better, they’d have less problems and make more money.
But like anything trite or common sense, its assumed we all know about it and how to do it properly. But if you’re a father or husband, you’ll know that often you’re on another communication planet to your kids or wife. If you’re a wife or mother you’ll know that the word listen seems to be a black hole in their vocabulary. If you hire staff you probably wonder just how many times you need to say something for it to be done. And end up doing it yourself. And if you end up communicating through solicitors, well lets not even go there.
Here are 6 simple, elegant and effective steps to effective and efficient communication to increase your profits, your enjoyment or business and entrepreneurship, and reduce time wastage to bare bones minimum:
1. Listen first – Get all the facts. What you think the problem is isn’t usually what you think it is. Sometimes issues are smaller than you think, and easily solved. Never assume, always ask. Don’t takes sides. Don’t over-react or get emotional and spill your frustration out. Don’t try to be right, try to be good. Don’t try to solve, yet. Listening shows that you are collected and that you care. It’s not about how long it takes to listen, because it can seem like you’re a counsellor, but it’s about how valued they feel being listened to. It might not be important to you but it could be everything to them.
2. You/we, not I – Using ‘we’ and ‘you’ and ‘our’ language gives significance to the recipient, and makes them feel important or part of something, even if they don’t own it or are working towards your vision. ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, language doesn’t empower or include. No one cares about you; only themselves. Give them ownership through your language. Give them the credit and you absorb blame/responsibility, and you will create inspired leaders not resentful employees only there for the paycheque.
3. Email, meeting or phone call; which one? – Pick the right method of communication. Don’t take an hours meeting where an email will do. Never do anything sensitive or about money or negotiations or disciplinaries on email, ever; always in a meeting face to face or phone call. Speak to people don’t just hide behind email. Show that you care through your communication method. Use email for follow up, clarification & next actions. If it is complicated, speak to them. If it is legal, don’t write it down. If it is emotional, draft then delete it!
4. Care about people – how will they respond/react to the communication? Could it hurt them? Could there be a lack of clarity? How motivating demotivating will it be? Could it be taken out of context or misunderstood?. Are you using words like ‘but’ & ‘with all due respect’ or an overt shit sandwich feedback trick they will see right through? Put yourself in their position & know the outcome of how you want them to feel, as well as what you want to say, especially in performance reviews, salary meetings, negotiations & disciplinaries
5. Discover their values – what is most important to them, in their career and in their entire life? When you know their top values, you can communicate through and to them, and they will respond well, stay empowered and associate positively with you. If family is important to them could you reward them with a Friday off? If independence is, avoid micro-management, and if it’s money, well that’s an easy one.
6. Manage Your Emotions – don’t make communication about you. Don’t let your emotions change your communication or turn the meaning into something else. It’s not what you say its how you say it. Save an angry email in draft. Then delete it. Game the timing of meetings based on how you know you will feel at that time; important ones early and fresh, ones you need to keep short at the end of the day.
If you improve your communication, only have to do or say something once and have clarity you will reduce the time taken to perform an operation, minimise wastage and duplication, thereby reducing your overhead and increasing your profit margin.