Merriam-Webster dictionary defines communication as “The act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else; a message that is given to someone: a letter, telephone call, etc.” This sounds so simple, yet can be very complex in a business environment.
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It might be said that communication is more of an art than a science. The easy part is simply exchanging information, speaking our thoughts to someone else. The art of communication, however, is knowing not only how to verbalize our ideas, but also how to listen, empathize, encourage, or influence. These actions are not automatic but take forethought and training to ensure messages are delivered to elicit a desired response.
Work on these seven techniques to improve your communication and improve your business:
1. Be positive
Communication can be positive or negative — your choice. This is through both verbal communication and body language. Listeners sense negative thoughts and feelings. When “bad vibes” are received and antennas go up, the intended result of any communication is lost. Think before you speak. Be conscious of your obvious body language. Positive intentions can be turned into negative outcomes with such little effort.
2. Be excited
Enthusiasm comes through when someone is really excited about what they are talking about. You cannot win over someone else to your thoughts and ideas when you are not even excited about the thoughts yourself. Excite your listener with your own excitement. Not excited? Then figure out how to get excited! There’s a lot of competition around. The bigger rewards go to those who are most excited about what they do.
3. Don’t be condescending
Do you like to be “talked down” to? Probably not; others don’t either. No one wants to be around someone who is arrogant and feels superior to others. When this happens in business, the other side simply goes away — employees, customers, associates. Most businesses cannot survive without all of these groups.
You cannot communicate effectively if you do not listen to what the other person has to say. You might be right, the other person might be right, or you both might be wrong. If you are not listening to the other side, you’ll never know who’s right or wrong … or both right or both wrong.
5. Be open-minded
There is usually more than one opinion on any subject. Certainly, you will have your own opinion, but effective communication also allows others to be heard and considered. Maybe there is room for compromise or a better solution to a problem. Being open-minded does not mean that you lose; it simply means that you were looking for and considering the best option to whatever you are discussing.
6. Say the magic words
Children are taught to be polite and say, “Please, thank you, and you’re welcome.” Somehow over the years adults forget that these same magic words apply in business. It takes such little time and effort to utter such words, but they can have such a profound effect.
7. Be thoughtful
You probably like to be treated in a certain way. Employees and customers want the same thing. When there is a mad dash in business to get something accomplished, people often forget the feelings of others. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way in making great progress.
Communication – easy or difficult, effective or ineffective – it’s up to you. When dealing with customers, communication is important. They want to know about the products or services they are purchasing. They want follow-up and customer service. Employees also need communication. They want open-door policies and to know that their voices are heard.
Effective communication can improve your business. Saying “it” the right way, a reply email, or a quick phone call. It does not always come easy, but the end result of improving your communication skills is well worth the effort. Be conscious of how you communicate and see the results.
Richard L. Weinberger, PhD, CPA has over 30 years experience as a financial and management consultant dealing exclusively with small businesses. He has taught numerous continuing education courses for entrepreneurs, business owners, and professionals. In addition to his business experience, Dr. Weinberger has been a full-time and adjunct professor. He holds a PhD degree in organization and management, an MBA in management, a BBA in marketing, and a BBA degree cum laude in accounting.
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