Communication Strategies that Work
Communication Strategies that Work
Q: I know you are supposed to communicate, communicate, communicate with your team to make sure everybody is on the same page. But I need communication strategies that work! Do you have any tips on HOW to communicate effectively?
A: You’re right— Communication is the foundation of every single relationship you have in your personal life. And, it’s no different in business. Without effective communication, there can be misunderstandings, problems and conflicts among your staff, your customers and everyone else you come into contact with. Effective delegation, increased productivity and an enjoyable work environment are virtually impossible with poor communication.
These 5 communication strategies that work will help you fine-tune your communication skills. They will help you save time, reduce stress and become more productive by communicating effectively in every interaction you have.
5 Ways to Communicate More Effectively in Your Small Business
1. Limit Distractions and Listen
Listening is the key to effective communication, but it’s not always easy. One way to become a better listener is to try limiting distractions during your conversations. Distractions make it difficult to hear and absorb what others are saying. That may mean closing your email, turning off your telephone, or closing the door to your office. By doing these small things, you ensure that the person you’re speaking with has your full attention.
It’s also important to limit internal distractions. In other words, everything going on in your mind. When you have several topics to tackle during a conversation rushing through them to get all of your ideas out may be tempting. Yet, this causes confusion and can make the other person feel like his or her input is not important. Slow down and remember that communication is a two-way street. Establish a give-and-take that allows both parties to have their say.
2. Be Responsive
Of these five communication strategies, this second technique could be the most important. One of the worst things you can do when a conflict arises or someone has a complaint about your business, products, services, etc. is ignore it. In most cases, some kind of response should be issued immediately, even if it’s just a brief statement that you’ll look into the issue.
If you wait until you have all of the information necessary before reaching out to the unhappy party, they may end up not only unhappy, but now also angry. Keep the lines of communication open in all situations by being as responsive as possible. In addition, make sure the people reaching out to you feel like their issue is important to you.
3. Ask the Right Questions
So much of communication relies on getting the information you need. Therefore, you need to ask the right questions. There are clues about which questions you should be asking in every part of the conversation you’re having. You must listen and zero in on those clues to figure out which questions will unravel the information you need.
Consider the case of an employee who has not been meeting goals and is generally unhappy at work. If you don’t ask the right questions, you may never get to the root of the issue, which can be anything from personal issues to being under-challenged.
4. Make the Most of Meetings
Meetings are notorious for being time wasters if they are not well-planned and thoroughly organized. If you are the organizer, you need to respect everyone’s time and make your meeting as efficient as possible. In order to do this, schedule it in advance. Then, take time to prepare an agenda that outlines focus points and sets a structure for the meeting.
In addition to these communication strategies that work, here are some other smart meeting tips that will help you make sure your meetings are productive:
- Confirm the meeting times in the appropriate times zones 1-2 days before the meeting.
- Assign a facilitator to manage the meeting and make sure participants stick to the agenda and the schedule.
- Encourage input and questions from everyone in the meeting.
- Take notes, or assign someone else to take notes. As a result, you capture the important details of the meeting.
5. Combine Communication Methods
Even if most of your communication takes place over the phone, you can create summary emails that outline what was discussed. In addition, outline what the next steps are and who is responsible for what. This can be a great way to combine different communication methods for more effective (and less confusing) forward-moving communication.
Ultimately, effective communication can be one of the most important skills you use in your business.
If your communication skills can use some fine-tuning, take time to analyze how you communicate. Then, implement these five communication strategies and monitor the results of your communication. Next, focus on ways you can improve it over time. You may be surprised how much that changes your relationships with staff, colleagues, family and customers for the better.
Do you have other communication strategies that work? Come on over to our Facebook page and share them! We’re all in this together.