Almost every single problem in the office comes down to communication. Deadlines missed: communication. Unhappy clients: communication. No milk in the fridge: communication. For a species set apart by our incredible linguistic skills, we are pretty terrible at making ourselves understood.
In business, there is a lot of potential for communication to go horribly wrong. From the staff who simply don’t understand what you are asking from them to the clients who feel they can’t get in touch to discuss an issue, finding the best ways to improve communication isn’t just a good idea – communication is vital to your success.
Methods of Communication
Given how much we like to natter, it’s no wonder that there are so many methods for talking. However, choosing the right format and method could be the difference between stellar communication and pointless chitchat.
Clients like to have lots of different ways to get in touch with companies including social media, phone and email. This is why it is so important that you have fully capable business phone systems so that you can take every message and respond properly. The sooner you can respond with a positive action, the better.
Communication between staff is more difficult to regulate. However, there should be meetings to discuss things, emails to create a paper trail of actions to be taken and follow up messages to track progress.
The Importance of Listening Properly
While we all think we are very good at communication, one of the main things we tend to fail at is actually listening to what is being said back. We are so focused on saying what we need to say that we often forget that there are two people in a conversation. For clients and staff alike, listening is the best way to make sure that everyone is on the same page in order for problems to be solved well.
Listening is even more important when someone is complaining. People tend to complain for two reasons: either they want to solve the problem and improve things, or they want a long rant where you just apologise and they go away. In both instances, you need to be prepared to sit and listen until they have talked themselves out and then offer a solution to suit everyone. You can’t please everyone but you can listen.
Actions Speak Loudly Too
Once you have listened and you have some actions to take, you need to make sure that you do them. One of the most undermining things you can do is sit in a meeting looking all the world like the perfect communicator and then fail to do the things you said you would. The second part of communication is showing that you understood and getting on with it.
While communication will always be something of an ongoing battle and there will always be times when you struggle or misunderstand something, continuing to try different methods and show willing should at least be an improvement. Learn from every mistake or less than satisfactory outcome and you will see some excellent progress.