Of course a proper conversation should involve an equal amount of listening to speaking and many people are actually not good listeners. This can be coached and most managers should consider attending such a course at some time to improve that part of their skill set.
If you think of relationships between colleagues a manager must establish himself/herself as available to listen and especially to bad news – your direct reports should not be afraid to relay bad news or indeed critique your advice if the team is to flourish and develop.
Business growth is built on partnerships with customers at one level or another and good communication must be at the heart of the relationship – be that B2B or end-users. Your distributors need constant reassurance and guidance (particularly at the start of the partnership) and you need to be fully informed of the “road ahead” to avoid surprises. If you are selling to end-users, then you must be seen to be available for feedback and to provide assistance at all times. The ability to do this has increased exponentially with the arrival of social media platforms and leading companies are already fully using the potential to maintain an open conversation with customers that can influence all aspects of the business from R&D to repeat sales and marketing.
There are some dangers though which I will deal with shortly. The best form of communication is undoubtedly face-to-face conversation because up to 90 per cent of the message is transmitted non-verbally through body language, tone etc. Therefore, when we choose to communicate remotely we are taking a risk that part of our intended message will not be understood correctly. It used to be the case that the default remote method was to telephone but today it seems that people avoid to call contacts preferring often to email or text. This seems especially true if it is bad news that needs to be conveyed.
A written message particularly in brief format such as an email will inevitably be interpreted from the point of view of the reader. The tone of the message will be superimposed by the reader in-line with their preconceived opinions about the writer or the topic which often will be far from reality. This can lead to breakdowns in negotiations or a hardening of positions in dispute resolution.
I would always counsel people to meet or at least telephone when dealing with such tricky scenarios. Often complicated issues require written documents but the sending of such materials must always be followed up quickly with a call or ideally a meeting to ensure proper understanding of your position. Negotiation and dispute resolution both require complete understanding of both parties’ points of view and this demands a strong element of listening. Success will be achieved when both sides feel they gained concessions – win: win. And finally, where a written response is required it is advisable to avoid immediately sending the email or text especially if the topic is contentious. Walk away and come back to it at a later time to reread it.
Read on to find out more about communication benefits.
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