It has been reported that Warren Buffet once told a class of business students that better communication could boost their value by fifty percent. If this is true, then it would be remiss of us not to teach you how to communicate better in business.
Check out the following list to see how you stack up:
Generate trust: Effective communication requires trust. To earn trust, you must be consistent with your message, congruent in your actions, and genuine. In addition, it should be known that people who are optimistic, confident, and demonstrate competence generate more trust than those who are negative, cynical, and incompetent (no one trusts someone who always gets things wrong).
It is a dialogue, not a monologue: Speaking at someone, instead of speaking with someone is often the difference between a good communicator and a bad communicator. Remember, good communication requires a sharing of ideas and opinions. Good communicators are often known for the questions they ask as well as the answers they provide.
Keep it simple: Since people have a tendency to distrust what they don’t understand, what they perceive as being confusing, or things that are unnecessarily complex, it is best to keep your communication simple. In a nutshell, don’t over complicate your message.
Be tactful: When you communicate with people in business, we need to avoid speaking in a manner that could be considered insensitive or arrogant. We also need to be aware of any sensitive issues that may need to be handled in a more delicate and nuanced way. Finally, we need to be aware of any biases that we may have which could impact not only the way we perceive others but also how others perceive us.
Stay on topic: When communicating, make sure you stay on topic. There is nothing worse than trying to communicate with someone who keeps getting off topic. Not only does getting off topic (for no apparent reason) waste valuable time, it also indicates that you are not truly following the conversation or that you are not interested in what your counterpart is saying.
Consider the listener’s perspectives and needs: If you want to make an impact, you must consider your audience’s perspectives and needs. As a general rule, listeners are more concerned about their own interests and needs than they are yours. Therefore, when making a presentation or sales pitch, appeal to the listener's self-interests.
Have a point: Not only do you need to have a point, but the people you are communicating with must clearly understand it. Our advice, speak in a clear and concise way. Get to your point in the quickest way possible. Don't be ambiguous.
Appeal to emotions as well as logic: Since humans are emotional creatures, our emotions often override our logic. For many, a logical explanation simply reinforces an emotional decision that has already been made. Appealing to one’s emotions, as well as one’s logic, often facilitates communication.
Show empathy: Although empathy starts with active listening, it is supported by genuine reflection. To communicate effectively in business, you need to truly listen to what your counterpart is saying. Then, before you respond, reflect upon their words in an attempt to get a better understanding of their message and intention. If in doubt, ask them to clarify or explain themselves again. You can do this by saying, “What do you mean exactly?”
Key Vocabulary remiss (adj.): lacking care or attention to duty; negligent
generate (v.): to make or develop
congruent (adj.): in agreement or harmony with something
optimistic (adj.): being hopeful or positive
competence (n.): level of skill or ability
perceive (v.): the way something is seen; the way something is judged
cynical (adj.): distrustful of human sincerity or integrity; overly doubtful
tendency (n.): an inclination toward a particular characteristic or type of behavior
In a nutshell (idiom): in short; in a brief way
ambiguous (adj.): unclear or inexact
facilitate (v.): to help or aid a process
reflect (v.): to think about