An efficient workplace is dependent on every member of the team being able to confidently communicate with each other. Communication is also at the heart of customer service, marketing and the building the reputation of the business. It’s clearly a vital business skill, but many individuals never have any communication skills training.
As we learn to talk at an early age and regularly engage in conversation, it’s easy to think that this is an unnecessary lesson. The reality is that many people are unaware of how their words and actions impact on another. They have yet to learn the value of effective communication.
The Value of Effective Communication
Confident communication leaves everyone feeling positive about the exchange. Even if the message wasn’t good news, it has been well delivered and received. Customers leave with a good impression of your company and colleagues view you as approachable and helpful. What’s more, you feel positive about how it went.
I’ve recently worked with a Buckinghamshire based company to update their communication training resources. With the key points fresh in my mind, I thought I would share a snapshot of what’s covered, in the hope that you can apply them to your business communications.
It’s All About Them
The starting point of good business communication is establishing what the other person wants to hear. In short, the message needs to be more about them than you. This applies to a 1:1 meeting, a presentation, your company website or telephone conversations.
To understand what the recipient wants to hear, you need to ask questions, listen to the answers and clarify your understanding by asking other questions. If you really take an interest in what the other person says, you can begin to consider things from their perspective.
When you gain insight into their perspective, you can begin to tailor the communication. There may be no change to the message, but you can alter the delivery. The recipient will then know that they have been heard and their points have been addressed.
Prepare to Communicate Confidently
Confident communication is also dependent on good preparation. Make it your priority to be knowledgeable about your products and services. Find out all you can about where information is stored and who in your team has specialist expertise, so you know where to turn to get answers. Also make it your business to research developments in your industry.
If you are asked a question that you don’t have the answer to, don’t make something up. Apologise, explain that you will have to ask and will get back to them with an answer. Then make it your mission to gather the information and present it. You’ll learn in the process.
Passive, Aggressive or Assertive Communication
There are four main forms of communication; Passive, Aggressive, Passive Aggressive and Assertive.
A Passive communicator lacks confidence. They rarely initiate a conversation or make eye contact. They will do anything to avoid conflict and say anything to please others.
An Aggressive communicator is demanding and intimidating. They see others as inferior and lack respect. They often use threatening behaviour or language to control the conversation and outcome.
A Passive Aggressive communicator complains and blames. They are negative and hostile, but typically in a non-direct way. They resent having to have this conversation and make that very clear in their body language, tone and expression.
An Assertive Communicator has self-respect, but is equally considerate of others. They listen, are interested and are able to articulate their points. The communication comes across as relaxed and natural.
Assertive communication is the only acceptable option. This applies when you are talking to your colleagues, customers, suppliers or prospects. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO or the new apprentice, if they are your biggest client or they are making a complaint, assertive communication is the only way to achieve a beneficial outcome for all.
Confident communication is a valuable tool that benefits everyone. We’ve explored three main points that contribute to confident communication: