“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes
So much of business is relationships. One key to being relatable is being able to communicate. By improving your communication you will improve relationships, your own education, educating others and provide yourself more opportunity for personal and professional growth. These 4 methods will help improve your communication.
Know when its appropriate to over-communicate – There are times when over-communication is imperative. In business this flows top down.
- New Client – The deal closed, AP has your info, now what. You know what you do best but just doing it is not enough. You need to articulate to your client exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it. Phone calls and in person meetings weekly for the first few months of the engagement are crucial.
- New Hire – You remember what it feels like to be the new guy. Even if you ask questions there is no way to ask all of the right ones. As a manager it is your responsibility to communicate. This includes everything from where the good lunch spots are to expectations on assignments. Communicate in person as much as possible at first. Eye contact and genuine interest will create a relationship.
The Shift – When over-communication leads to positive outcomes you build a trust. Once trust builds you see a shift. Now the new hire/client is the one communicating to you. This is how you want it but only once you have proven yourself as a leader.
Know how to communicate – Be Succinct
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. This, to me, makes time our most valuable asset. One quick way to ruin a relationship is to waste someones time.
Ernest Hemingway was a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning novelist whose work shaped 20th-century fiction. On average he wrote at a 4th-6th grade reading level. His reading was quick and easy to digest leaving little room for misinterpretation.
Where does this come in to play? Meetings, emails, conversations – Often in these situations less is more. In the case of email, try to cut your copy in half and then try again. There are tools that assist, including the Hemingway App (go figure).
Communication leads to preparation: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” – Ben Franklin
This is a principle I use with events. Events are a business. There are many stakeholders involved – Speakers, Sponsors, Attendees, Vendors, Staff etc. The key to a smooth event is preparation and the key to preparation is how you communicate in advance.
Some people may like surprises in life but in business it is smart to keep them few and far between. Surprises will happen regardless so control them with preparation. Whether it’s a project, event or daily activities communicate with the appropriate stakeholders. This minimizes the amount of surprises and keeps you and your work relevant.
Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?
Communication can be difficult. Our attention span is shrinking. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute the avg. attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds. This is down from 12 seconds in 2000 and is less than that of a gold fish.
What this means is that no matter how clear we are in person, people will miss things. As a leader phrases like this are important “does this make sense”, “are you with me”, “should I go over that again”. Many times the person you are communicating with won’t admit that they missed something.
Technology helps and hurts. Text and e-mail are efficient but things may get lost in translation. Follow up phone calls or a desk drop by are worth it to confirm you have communicated your message AND it’s reception is as you intended.
It doesn’t matter how effective of a communicator you are if the message isn’t received.