By learning how to become a more effective communicator, you should be able to run your business more smoothly, make the most of new business opportunities, and become a leader who deserves to be respected and admired. In this series, we will discuss about the most common communication mistakes to avoid.
Being too vague
You need to be clear about what is happening, or what needs to be done.
Being too long-winded
Everyone is so busy these days. It is important to get straight to the point, without being rude or careless of other people’s feelings if you have to deliver any bad news.
Not being honest
When things get tough, you might feel tempted to lie or fib to spare someone’s feelings. However, as a leader, you need to be a person of integrity. Say what you mean and mean what you say, and you will serve as an excellent role model in your company.
Choosing the wrong method of communication
It is important to choose the best method for communicating depending on what needs to be conveyed. For example, if you have to discuss an important new initiative for the company, you should not just do it in passing as an “Oh by the way” but rather, invite the required personnel to a meeting about it.
Once everyone who has been invited is assembled, it will be time to tell everyone what is going to be happening. In this way, they won’t mishear things or hear things “on the grapevine”.
Not listening to opinions
At the meeting, allow staff the opportunity to ask questions. You may be the leader, but effective communication is always a two-way street.
Relying too much on email
Email is a great way to communicate, but it is not suitable all the time. Sometimes it is better to have a face-to-face meeting than to send an email. A private conversation can remain private. An email can be hacked, or shared all over the internet.
There is nothing that looks more spams than a bulk email with no name on it. All the formal emails you send should address a person specifically by name. Busy business people are always getting proposals from people who want to do business with them. However, 99% of those proposals go in the trash because they are not personalized.
If you do have to send a “cold call” type of email, try to get as much information as possible beforehand. A little research can go a long way towards opening the door to new business relationships if you take the time to get the name right. Learn others’ names and you will soon become more of a people person in your business.
Not Having Enough Face-to-Face Communication
Face-to-face discussions can also eliminate the need for a lot of typing back and forth if things need to be clarified. In addition, tone of voice is not always conveyed in an email, which means that sometimes things can be misunderstood, or feelings can be hurt. When you’re speaking to people face to face, it is important to use their name. It makes them feel that they are getting your full attention. It also shows that you don’t just treat everyone like a number. Learning people’s names quickly shows that you care about others and have a sharp eye for detail.
If you have trouble remembering people’s names, consider creating a little cheat sheet for yourself about your most important business contacts, so you can remember who is who in each department or each outside company you work with regularly.
If you hold large meetings with your staff, once everyone is settled in (and if it is appropriate), ask everyone to go around the table to introduce themselves quickly; their name, department and role. Make a seating chart as they speak. Then you can put face to name, and vice versa if you have to ask anyone a direct question.
Not Collecting Business Cards
Business cards may seem old-fashioned, but they can be an invaluable piece of paper when you are outside the office. Always carry some with you and collect them from others if possible. When you get one, write down in a few words what the conversation was about and what action items might have come out of the conversation, such as needing to send a catalog or ringing them later in the week to check on availability for a meeting.
Having the full name on the card will help you remember the name more easily than if it came to you via a hurried introduction. If they don’t have a business card, give them yours, with the same sort of note on it to help them remember you.
Not Paying Attention on the Importance of Body Language
The next thing that you must learn is the importance of body language in your communications. Paying attention to your body language is essential when communicating face to face with potential business partners and your own staff. Body language basically describes your posture, facial expressions and movement. Each of these can indicate unconscious messages which might not match up with the verbal communication you are trying to undertake, and therefore undermine your success. A mismatch might make you seem unapproachable or even dishonest. There are several body language habits which are extremely negative and should be avoided. Here are a few of them:
Crossing your arms in front of your chest
This looks defensive and keeps people away from you. You can be seen as uninterested, especially if you look away. It might also be construed as you being angry.
Putting your hands on your hips
This makes you look bossy and aggressive.
Looking away from someone
This could be considered a sign of lack of interest, boredom, embarrassment, that you have something to hide, that you are not paying attention, or that you are lying. Try to face the person you are speaking to head-on, or only slightly turned to one side. If you get embarrassed about looking people in the eye because you are shy, focus on the area between their eyebrows, or the top of their head if you are standing and they are sitting.
Fiddling with something or fidgeting
When you are talking, try not to fiddle with anything like a pen or the clicker of a pen, your computer mouse, and so on. Try not to fidget either, such as drumming your fingers, tapping and so on. All of these are a sign of disinterest and perhaps even impatience or annoyance.
Frowning or shaking your head
Both of these discourage communication and basically shut down the conversation. A frown indicates anger or annoyance. Shaking your head conveys refusal or disagreement.
Not Knowing the Difference Between Assertiveness and Aggression.
When speaking to people, try to have an open, neutral stance with your body facing them and your arms relaxed at your sides. When you are speaking or listening to someone, make sure you are looking straight at them. Don’t look down at your papers or your computer screen. By giving people your full attention, communication can be much more effective and your body language will show you as open and receptive rather than closed off and reluctant to deal with people. The next importance thing in communication is knowing the difference between assertiveness and aggression in your business communications.
People do business with people they like. Someone who seems to be too pushy or aggressive is not going to be a person that anyone wants to deal with very often. This being the case, if you are too aggressive in going after contracts, deals and partnerships, you could end up losing many of the opportunities that you are working so hard to secure.
The whole point of business dealings these days should be to create a win-win for everyone, not get your own way in every respect. If you are too aggressive, the other party might turn you down. Or, they might go ahead with the deal, but will feel but they have been taken advantage of in some way. This will cause resentment and make for a difficult working relationship. A mutually beneficial deal in which everyone benefits equally may be hard, but it is worth the effort because that form of deal is much more likely to succeed, and could be the start of a prosperous long-term relationship that will last for many years to come.
Assertiveness is all about stating your needs, especially if someone is trying to push back and give you less than favorable terms in a deal. Assertiveness is also about communicating your ideas and sticking to your guns, even if other people are trying to shoot you down.
For example, you might be in a meeting where you are giving valuable feedback because you are certain the way your colleagues wish to do something is not going to work. They might dismiss your ideas out of hand, ignore you, or even attack you. Being assertive in this case means sticking to your guns, but with facts to back it. Once the others see it isn’t just an opinion you are offering, they will give you and your ideas more respect and consideration.
Now that we’ve covered some of the most common communication mistakes, evaluate how good you are at communicating in light of this list and see if you need to improve in any of these areas.