All leadership skills are important to a small business owner, but communication is among those that are at the top of the list.
Why? Because there are more consequences from poor communication than any of the others combined. Misdirection and misinterpretation are common, leading to time spent resolving misunderstanding and even conflict.
The Importance of Communication Skills
As a small business owner, mastering the skill of effective communication can change the productivity, profitability, and possibilities for your business.
This skill alone can help you to build loyalty in staff and clients, promote team play, ignite creativity, encourage performance, and resolve conflict. It can influence change and tease out top performances.
The fact that it is so important makes it surprising that most business owners I surveyed rate themselves “poor” in effective communication. They report that developing the skill does not come naturally to them and they fear it will involve a sharing of “feelings”, or take more time than they can afford to give. Ignoring the opportunities, they dash off a text message, leave a voice mail, or send an e-mail. The interpretation of these hastily sent messages are left to the receiver, which means they are left to chance.
10 Tips for Developing Effective Communication Strategies
Do not leave messages to chance and run the risk for potential miscommunication. Follow these tips to be a more effective communicator:
1. Take time.
Stop, reflect, and take the time needed to send any message. Give thought to your purpose in the message and who will be receiving it. What outcome are you expecting? What outcome do you need?
2. Set the right tone.
As the sender, you select the method, mood, and message for the communication and its delivery. You set the “tone”. An effective sender is authentic, factual, and sets a tone of willingness to listen and openness to learn.
3. Be clear and concise.
Say no more than you need to when relaying a message, but be sure you have said enough for it to be clear.
4. Be an active listener.
Everyone wants to be heard. We all have opinions and ideas that often need a listener to help them grow to maturity.
5. Ask for and allow feedback.
Make it clear that you are always willing to accept feedback and response as long as it is constructive and timely.
6. Be present.
Your mind can process more information than your conversation partner can speak. You may feel the need to rush or hurry them. Stop. Wait. Be present. Then pause if you need to formulate a response. Take your time. A little quiet space in a conversation is a good thing.
7. Do not dominate.
No one likes to wait patiently while another dominates the conversation. A good rule is to speak three sentences and then wait for a response.
8. Refrain from offering unwanted advice.
Nothing will stop a flow of information more quickly than “telling” someone what they feel or think. They know their feelings. Instead, try to see the points they are making from their point of view, from their perspective. Respond to others with acceptance and empathy but be genuine. Never fake your concern.
9. Body language.
Good eye contact and relaxed body language are very important in face-to-face encounters. Use gestures such as a head nod or mouth gestures such as a smile to show you are listening. If you are speaking by telephone, give voice feedback such as, “I see” or “I understand”.
10. Communicate their way.
Use a method of communication that is appropriate for the circumstance and, if you are aware, the way your receiver learns best. Everyone has a preference. Some are auditory learners, others are visual, and still others are kinesthetic. At the very least, do not hide behind the “easy way.” If the conversation requires an in-person response, an e-mail will not do.
Using Communication Strategy for Your Business
In this world, we live in we often rush to cram as much as possible into every day. The first point of suffering from that attitude is usually missed opportunities to communicate more effectively.
Make it your “business” to be an effective communicator. The outcome may just amaze you and will certainly serve you well.
About Sherry Jordan Professional Business Coaching
Analyzing how you communicate in the workplace, with business partners, and during client interactions is an important piece of developing an effective business strategy. Sherry Jordan is an experienced small business advisor that can help you master effective communication strategies as well as plan for your other essential business needs.
Reach out today & take your business to the next level with Sherry Jordan!