5 Ways Communication Rules!
by Erin Cheever, Director
Communication. Such a simple word. But is it really that simple? With all the communication types used in the business world today, it could not be more complex. From non-verbal to written, the list is endless and hard to keep straight with each project or situation seemingly needing a particular communication plan to follow. What does your communication plan look like? What are the rules you live by? What must happen, or not happen, to not only make your project work, but succeed?
This article will cover the five communication rules I live by when starting a project and what drives it throughout the entire process.
Tips for Written Communications
While a large percentage of your communication will be verbal, business relies heavily on written communication such as emails, spreadsheets or reports. When structuring your written communications, several different elements must come into play to ensure your message is clear and concise.
First, decide what type of written communication is the best for each situation and audience. Will you need to send a simple email? Does the situation call for developing a detailed report? Are you speaking to the owner of the company or the IT staff? Depending on your audience and the structure of your document, your message and tone will vary.
Second, remember that breaking up your text so that it is user friendly and easy to read is very important. You want your recipient to be able to pick out the key information with a quick scan of the document.
Third, brushing up on your grammar skills will benefit you in the long run. Providing your clients with proofed, error-free writing will show your level of professionalism in the project. If proofreading and grammar checking is not your forte, have a coworker ensure the information you send out is planned, organized and, most importantly, mistake-free.
Listening is the Key to Verbal
Most people consider themselves good listeners, but in actuality, most people are not. Sure they hear what you are saying but are they really taking in the information? Do they understand what you are trying to tell them? Listening is just as important as talking. In some situations, it is the most important part.
You must understand that the messages coming back to you are just as important as the information and messages you send out. Try actively listening to what your client wants. Engage in their needs and wants for the project at hand. Clear your mind of all other thoughts and concerns, know when to be quiet and not interrupt. Follow your active listening plan and show your client that their project is your top priority.
Plan, Plan and Then Plan Some More
A plan. Must we always have a plan when we start a project? If you want to take your project to the next level and celebrate with champagne at the end, then yes, you need a plan.
A plan doesn't always have to be a detailed strategic or business plan, but you do need to ask these questions:
Who needs something, what do they need, and when do they need it?
How much detail or lack of detail should I provide?
Can this be a simple email, or do I need to send a spreadsheet or report along with it?
What kind of person am I talking to?
What are my obstacles?
What are my challenges?
Tackle these questions, and you will see the benefits of planning before taking action.
Identify Your Barriers
There are so many obstacles and barriers to overcome and acknowledge when you get ready to communicate to someone, whether personality-based, culturally-based or politically-based. Realizing that everyone does not require the same amount or type of information will help you know how to best craft your message to get the answers you need.
At Boomer Consulting, we use Kolbe A to determine communication styles. It's helped us know how we should change our communication methods based on whom we are talking to. We have determined that if you can learn to change your communication plan and tailor it to your clients based on their learning styles, you can change how the game is played.
Don't Beat Around the Bush
This rule is simple, and something your mom may have told you growing up: be clear, be concise, be direct. Mean what you say and say what you mean.