What is an activity that everyone practices but few people succeed at?
Good communication is vital for a business to run smoothly and profitably, yet we often do it so poorly. Why?
Two things prompted me to write this article:
(1) I am presently reading Stephen R. Covey The 8th Habit which refreshes your recollection of the 7 habits of highly effective people; Habit 5 is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. How many communicators do this?
For example, at a recent training course, a participant asked a question of the trainer who rattled off an answer. I doubted the answer addressed the question which was a fundamental part of the subject matter for the remaining two hours of the course. My doubts were later confirmed by the way the participant spoke about the trainer.
So how could this have been overcome? Well, as Stephen Covey suggests, the trainer didn’t seek to understand what the person was trying to ask. Nor did the trainer ask if he had answered the question before continuing with the content. While each step can take time (and we were pressed for time in the training course) it is better to clarify the issue before going to the next step, as the whole relationship (or content in this case) can break down or be wasted.
(2) My own self-learning! I was asked to give a presentation on communication – to which I politely and promptly answered “I’m not the right person”. Now what I did was jump to the conclusion that this organisation wanted me to talk about written communication. You see, I secretly hate writing (PS – by the way they did not want me to do that at all!). What I did, as I see/hear numerous people doing, is jump to my own (non-)preferred communication style and assumed that this will (or want in my case would not) work!
Communication is a tool that will help you build a profitable business provided that you consider all modes of communication when interacting with people. Just because you like to receive an SMS don’t assume the receiver does. If you prefer to receive an email, check if this is suitable to the other person. They might like a phone call or SMS! So talk to your clients and ask them how they would prefer you to communicate with them.