The need to communicate is as basic to humans as is the need to take in food. We just can’t do without it…
Strangely, though, this doesn’t mean we’re particularly good at it.
Ok, most all of us do fine when it comes to eating. However, many don’t do so well when it comes to eating nutritious foods, in the right quantities, at the right time.
At the same token, many people do ok when engaging in basic communication with friends, family, and co-workers. However, few are true masters when it comes to communicating effectively and clearly.
Communicating well works in your favor… in personal and business affairs alike.
On the one hand, clear and open communication improves personal and business relationships. It allows you to present and exchange ideas. It enables you to negotiate and get your objectives accomplished.
On the other hand, fuzzy and closed communication tends to result in mistrust and misunderstanding. Often this leads to strained relationships. It also decreases your chances of achieving your goals.
For you, the business owner, solid communication skills take on an extra level of importance.
Effective communication skills…
- Define the degree of success you’ll achieve with your customers, your patients.
- Dictate how well you’ll work with your employees.
- Either help you achieve your business goals, or keep you from achieving them.
If you want to be successful in your personal and business life, clear and effective communication skills are a must.
Here are three simple strategies to help you communicate more effectively. Best of all, you can implement and put them to the test at once.
1. Keep it clear and simple…
In other words… “say what you mean and mean what you say.”
No matter if you are communicating verbally or in writing, keep your communication clear, simple, and easy to understand. Of course, you can do this only if you’re clear on what it is you want to accomplish and what you want to say. If you are not clear on what the objective of the communication is, neither will the other party. And your lack of clarity will come through loud and clear.
So before you participate in any conversation, be clear on the objective and the expected outcome.
2. Be the best listener you can be…
Knowing how to be an active listener is an under-appreciated, yet important communication skill. Fully listening to the other person signals that you’re interested and trying to understand what they have to say. Listening lets the other person know that you value their opinion, even though you may not agree with what is being said. So listen closely… you might just be surprised at all the things you’ll hear.
3. Take a step back so that you can pause…
Make it a habit of taking a deep breath. Pause before you start talking or giving your reply. Not only do you get an extra minute to reflect on how you want to respond. If necessary, you also get time to calm down and respond appropriately. There is no point getting emotional over something the other person says. By using a pause, you can ensure that you respond how you want to respond, instead of overreacting and saying something you might regret later on.
Effective communication is at the heart of all of our relationships. It’s true for personal and professional relationships alike. It applies across all ages.
Whenever you talk with someone, remember the three steps outlined above. Have clarity, listen more than you speak, and take a step back (if need be).
And remember, all of this is even more important when you talk with someone in a business setting. A family member or friend may forgive an unkind work. But your employee or the new vendor may not be as forgiving when spoken to harshly.
We’d love to hear from you… tell us what you think.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians” and a regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog.