In this section I will address skills that are required to communicate effectively within a business environment.
Listening skills in business communication
Pay attention and listen
Don’t let your mind wander when you are engaged in a conversation. Find a way to ensure that your attention is directed to the other person and what they are trying to communicate to you. Picture a situation where in the middle of a conversation with a client they ask a question and since you were not listening all you come up with is eh… What… or umm… The remedy here is to first apologize and seek information and clarification.
Decode the message
Put you mind to work when engaged in a business conversation and read between the lines. Read the emotions that come out with the words. This goes a long way to help you understand the message in its true perspective. If there is an aspect that you don’t understand just pose the question subtly back to the person speaking to you.
Hear what is being said not what you want to hear
Try and engage in the conversation with an open mind. Turn down your bias and prejudice, this may be difficult I must admit but it is worth mentioning that most conversation we have are unproductive because of this.
Do not recite
Each and every conversation is different, so don’t engage in the conversation like you have recited what you are saying. Let the communication happen naturally, pause and give the other person an opportunity to respond and reflect. But still it’s not wrong to practice in front of the mirror.
Skills of inquiry in business
In business communication you need to be inquisitive to get the correct information. There are 4 different lines of questioning and these are:
· Probing/ investigative questions such as…
· Leading questions such as “what is the most exciting thing that you have ever experienced?”
· Closed ended questions “which came first the chicken or the egg?”
· Open ended questions such as “when he left what ensued?”
Careful on how you use the 4 types of questions above
Each type has its use and its appropriate place. Be careful when using the closed ended type of question because if wrongly used the question ends up sounding rude.
You are not a secret agent
Do not interrogate keep your line of questioning subtle, avoid “why” questions and keep your questions short and to the point.
Time your questions when communicating
Do not fire questions at the other person try and place them tactfully within the conversation. Offer enough time for response. This helps reduce anxiety during communication.
Keep it simple
When answering a client you are engaging in a business conversation keep your answer simple, avoid being overly technical.
Flexibility while communicating
Don’t respond to personal questions the same way you do the professional questions. Some clients just need to be sure that you are human too so they can relate.
Firm/Assertive skills in business communication
Don’t confuse arrogance, rudeness or an “ever right” attitude as assertiveness because it’s not. Assertiveness is being humble and polite but still maintaining firmness and clarity in your communication.
Be clear in your communication
When having a conversation with a client make sure you emphasize what you feel is important. Repeat your statement if need be for purposes of clarity tip toeing around an issue does not make it go away.
Learn to say NO
Do not mislead your client or the people working with you. If you are unable to do something just say No and be firm about. If need be give your reasons not excuses. For the clients and people you interact with this gives them an opportunity to have trust in your YES.
How to Negotiate/ haggle in business
Most of us have done this at some point in their lives. Some it’s frequent and others not so much. In business negotiation skills in communication are very important. This is because several aspects of business cannot be settled outright. A middle ground has to be reached before signing that contract or agreeing to the client’s price and this is mostly done through negotiations.
Try and keep negotiations short, depending on the circumstances haggling too much may reduce the interest of involved parties. Ask your client how far they can go if the response meets your goals or gives you something to work with then “close”.
Engage the art of persuasion when communicating, outline the benefits of your product or service and compare them against the market standard. Let it be a deal, before you even begin the negotiations. Remember it all about benefits so clearly outline them to the other party.
If need be offer something extra, some business deals may require you to dig just a little deeper in order to form lasting bonds and ensure return and referral business. If you are selling jewelry for example, you can ‘throw in’ free first time cleaning in the deal.
Maintain business ethical standards when negotiating. Do not compromise business ethics by engaging in dishonest flattery or other unscrupulous means to negotiate. Don’t pretend to give away a free item that actually came in the pack. Removing the headset from the packaging only to use it later to sweeten the deal is totally unacceptable. If the client finds out you have much more to lose and don’t forget the legal suit that may follow.
Reassurance skills in business communication
When conducting business not everything goes as planned all the time, so be prepared to handle such situations appropriately. You may be required to restore confidence in your clients, employees, partners and other parties involved in your business at one point.
When going through a crisis, information dispensation is crucial. Don’t keep the other parties guessing. Let them know what you are going through and let them know you are working towards a solution. This on its own gives a sense of reassurance. For example, when there is a flight delay due to some unavoidable circumstances the worst case is withholding information because this raises tensions. The appropriate course of action is informing them and steps taken to sort out the situation in time to reassure the clients that they will get to travel.
Reassurance is only good if it’s true. If a situation cannot be sorted out, don’t reassure the people involved. This will just raise false hopes which will paint you as a dishonest character when the truth eventually comes out.
The above points will continue to be updated over time from your contributions. Practice makes perfect makes permanent, so practice these skills of communication and make applications in business and other spheres as required.