Communicating is more than speaking, it’s about listening, both verbal and non-verbal. I am bi-lingual, there is no way in making me a better communicator. Communication is a trained skill like many in business. I learnt the importance of communication very early on, I often remember when we first arrived in Australia not knowing a word of English made it difficult, to say the least.
With anything, communication alone is not the only driver or contributor to business success. We can go one step further and state, it is not just communication but the act of effective communication that is vital for any business owner. The difference between sealing a deal and missing out on a potential opportunity is being able to get your point across.
Being able to clearly explain your company policies to staff, answer client questions to handling objection about your product or services. It is even more crucial to communicate effectively in negotiations settings.
Within your business, communication plays a major role in managing morale and performance efficiency, effective communication can help foster a good working relationship between you and your staff members.
Let’s look at the key aspects of both verbal and non-verbal communication, how to listen and understand others, and how to make the best possible first impression.
What is communication?
Effective communication is not just about getting your way but rather a conversation whereby both parties listen and understand each other. Communication is a skill you can learn and improve. Useful to building positive interpersonal relationship include:
· Active listing vs Passive listening
· Look to understand non-verbal signals
· Eye contact
· Assertiveness vs Aggressive
· Personal space
· Body language
· Positive attitude to person/situation
· Awareness of situation
· Your presentation to suit the occasion
The words you use are important and equally as important is the way you say it. Verbal forms of communication can be carried out successfully, however it can also be hazardous to your business when approached the wrong way. The level of sensitivity really depends on the industry you and your business are in and the acceptable norm that surrounds your situational and cultural setting.
The positive outcome is more likely when positioned with positive language as opposed to negative language.
Using positive language is helpful and encouraging as it suggests alternatives and offers solutions-oriented perspective to problems/situations and focuses on positive actions and consequences.
Assertive vs. Aggressive
Assertiveness can be referred to as stating what you plan or want without coming across as hostile. Aggressiveness is a hostile and unfriendly way of telling people what to do. With both approach, it is the consistency of their application that will either lead you to a mutually acceptable outcome. The perceived approach is highly dependent on your speaking style. That is your tone, pitch, accent, volume, pace, etc.
The same sentence can be conveyed and understood in entirely different based on which way it is said. The Certain situation demands a specific speaking style to be most effective. For example, in an emergency, a directive approach maybe deem more effective with clear, precise and instructive language and engaging the listener in promoting the response you are after.
Questions, Questions, Questions
There is no such thing as a stupid question, just the one you never ask. The art of asking the ‘right’ questions and taking the time to listen to the answers is the distinctive factor between a good communicator and a great communicator. Asking and listening to the right question makes the other person feel that their opinion is being sought genuinely by you. This is important particularly in a business situation where there is a lot on the line with a conversation having important consequences for both involved depends on the type of questions being used.
· Open questions; requires a person to explain and extend on things, helps to build rapport and encourages them to ‘open’ up. For example ‘How has your business changed since we’ve become your accountant in the last 12 months?’
· Close questions; requires a specific response, such as yes or not. Ideal for finding out facts, limiting or guiding the conversation. For example, ‘Are you happy with our fee proposal?’
· Probing questions; is designed to develop a specific understanding of the other point of view, questions are more targeted. For example, ‘How can we change our offer so that it will be a win-win for both of us?’
Generally, using questions in a conversation would take the format of a range of question types. For example, using open and closed questions together can help guide the conversation and encourage contributions from all parties.
Digression is a risk of only using open questions, while only using closed questions encourages dismissiveness and disengagement where the other party just said yes or no. A mixture of both questions and styles will build better rapport, start and continues the conversation for maximum success and engagement.
In business situations, certain types of questioning should be avoided at all cost because asking them does nothing for your credibility or your ability to navigate or negotiate efficiently and effectively. These include:
· Destructive questions; ‘So you’re saying it’s my fault:’
· Leading or manipulative questions; ‘You’ll have that done by today, right?’
· Questions overload; When do you need it? Why don’t you want it now? You can’t get it anywhere else?’
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07 3668 0646 if you need assistance and support with your small business from start, scale thru to sale.
James Huy Vuong is a CPA and the owner of Your Accounting Partners. Partnering with businesses from start to scale thru to sale.