Monday, June 8, 2015

Communication is Key to Your Success

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

Whether we’re talking about contact between managers and employees or about marketing to current and prospective consumers, effective communication will determine whether the relationship thrives or flounders.

A frequent and important problem I’ve observed in communication is that the messenger thinks they’ve communicated to the recipient the importance of the message, but in reality, the messaged lacked clarity, specificity, or succinctness, all of which are powerful attributes of an effective message.

People spend their whole college careers majoring in communication, but the majority of us don’t have the luxury of time to become accredited experts. I’m going to boil this article down to a handful of helpful communication guidelines most useful and pertinent to entrepreneurs and leaders alike.

Frequent and Regular
Depending on the position, people involved, or depending on the need, communication could be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. If you work closely with a team, you should probably have daily touches and weekly in-depth meetings where you discuss happenings and expectations. If you’re running, say, a social media campaign, you could probably increase engagement by posting more than once a day on several different platforms and make the conversation seem more organic as opposed to another item on your task list.

Clear and Specific
When communicating to your audience, give details that are extensive but relevant to the topic. Anticipate questions and common scenarios or concerns. However, don’t give so much information that your message gets lost in translation. Try to “cut the fat” when you talk. Get to the heart of the matter, and only give context with context is necessary. Avoid Information Overload.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes said it best when trying to describe the limits of the brain: “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”)

Any decent PR firm will tell you that you need to control the conversation in order to get the results you desire. How do you do that? First, make sure you are the Source – don’t confuse your audience with multiple voices or outside third parties who aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of your business. At the same time, you need to establish authority. People will trust you if they perceive you as the expert on a given topic. Lastly, make sure your messages are unified companywide – Make sure management and executives reach consensus before letting information trickle down. You never want something to dissolve into he-said-she-said-he said shenanigans

Great people understand that their word their your bond. Hold yourself accountable for the things you say and the promises you make.  In addition, it is in your best interest l to check that any facts and any information you share is correct. If you don’t know the answer to a question or problem, tell your team or your questioner “I’ll find out/I’ll get back to you” and take the time to find the right answers. Don’t just blurt something out for the sake of talking – it’s better to be right the first time instead of having to correct faulty information.
Especially with regard to customer service and employees, don’t let requests or queries fall to the side. Follow up and find ways to get back to items. People will perceive that you care, that you are serious about their concerns.

Different people respond to different methods of communication. You should never assume that one way of talking or one form of communication works for everyone.
Some people need visual aids. Others learn through hands on experience. Then there is the group that responds when there emotional buttons are pushed. Test out different methods and see the changes in feedback and response time.

Let your values come through in your communication. Often, executives will opt for the sanitized “corporate voice” instead of their own, but it’s more important to be real than eloquent. People trust and gravitate toward genuine feelings.

Stop, look and listen. Remember that effective communication is a two-way street. Good leaders and good marketers know how to ask good questions and then listen with both their eyes and ears. Listen and hear what is coming back at you. Look for the nonverbal cues with people or search out shares and reviews for online activities. Also, let communication be open – be receptive to the opinions, praises, and criticisms of your audience, as they will only help you focus and improve.

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