One of the Hardest Skills to Master, but Critical to Business Success
Updated: Jun 13, 2019
Over the past 20 years or so I’ve had the privilege of interviewing hundreds of interesting candidates for both a number of companies and a variety of roles. Near the end of most interviews, I would typically ask candidates an open-ended question like, “Tell me something about yourself, other than what is on your resume or work-related experience, that you feel would help us consider you for this position.”
There was one interviewee in particular who comes to mind when thinking back on this question. This candidate, who if I remember correctly was probably in their mid-30’s, took an unusual amount of time gathering their thoughts before responding to the question. After what seemed to be an eternity of silence, he shared with me that shortly after he graduated from college, his dad passed away. At this point, I didn’t know quite what to say, other than “I’m sorry.”
He continued to share that this life-changing event had opened his eyes to the idea that life is too precious NOT to communicate openly and effectively. He then explained that even though he thought what he had was a normal father-son relationship, he wished that he could have gone back in time to form a closer bond with his dad through better communication.
He said that it wasn’t until a few years later that he identified this personal shortfall and bought several books on personal development and self-awareness. He continued by explaining that one author made the analogy that it’s harder to master the art and skill of communication than it is to split the atom or to launch a satellite into space. He said that in another book, they highlighted that many people go through life on “reserve mode” and due to a subconscious fear of personal rejection, they never communicate effectively.
He then adjusted his tone a bit softer and confidently stated that he is now a better son, husband, father and hopefully soon to be employee of our company because of what he had learned from his personal bump in the road on becoming the best communicator he can be.
I am fortunate and privileged that he shared that story with me, not just because he ended up becoming an exceptional addition to the team, but because of how he forever changed my perspective and appreciation for the term “communication”. Now, whenever I hear someone attempt to define, defend or debate this concept, it brings back the memory of what this interviewee had taught me. Any attempt to try and master this task is absolutely futile. One can only be a lifelong student on becoming a highly effective communicator.
Communication can make or break a business. Whether dealing with customers or employees, consistent and effective communication is of paramount importance.
It is often said that communication is more of an art than a science. The easy part is simply exchanging information… speaking thoughts to someone else. The art of communication, however, is knowing how to verbalize ideas while at the same time listening, empathizing, encouraging, or influencing. These actions are not automatic but take forethought and training to ensure messages are delivered to elicit a desired response.
The following techniques can improve communication and improve business:
Communication can be positive or negative through both verbal communication and body language...your choice. Listeners sense negative thoughts and feelings. When “bad vibes” are received and antennas go up, the intended result of the communication is lost. Positive intentions can be turned into negative outcomes with such little effort. Think before you speak and be conscious of body language. Make all communication as positive as possible.
Enthusiasm shows through when someone is really excited about what they are talking about. You can't convince someone of your thoughts and ideas when you're not even excited about them yourself. Excite your listener with your own excitement. If you're 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.
Don’t be condescending
No one likes being "talked down" to or being 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 need all of these groups to survive.
Communication can only be truly effective when each person hears what the other 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.
There is usually more than one opinion on any subject. Certainly, everyone has his or her own opinion, but effective communication 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.
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 these words, but they can have such a profound effect.
You probably like to be treated in a certain way. Customers and employees want the same. 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.
Easy or difficult, effective or ineffective
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, likewise, need communication, as well. They want open-door policies and know that their voices are heard.
Effective communication can improve a business. It always doesn't come easy but saying something the right way, a reply email, or a quick phone call can be well worth the effort. Be conscious of how you communicate and see the results!
About the Author
Jason Halberg is an accomplished executive who founded an internet startup and grew it into a company with $50 million in revenues. He is passionate and committed to helping fellow entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level. Through this company, High Voltage Advisors LLC, he consults business owners and executives who are looking to achieve faster growth by leveraging his expertise in sales and marketing, business operations, process automation and problem solving. If you are looking to increase profits and reduce stress, then schedule your complimentary business assessment consultation with Jason today.