“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins
Effective communication is the very basis of human life and so it flows naturally that it is an indispensable part of business success too. The start of any business and its continuation are all a factor of communication and for a business and the people in it to succeed, communication needs to be effective. With clear, crisp and precise communication one reduces the chances of misunderstandings, breakdown of relationships and instead encourages interactions to be more effective, congenial and long lasting. Skills of effective communication are vital for anyone and especially among co-workers. For business owners too, effective communication could be the difference between gaining a stronghold in the market versus losing out on opportunities that present themselves.
Effective communication is all about clarity in expressing oneself and for a business it translates to being able to clearly elucidate the company’s policies, strategies, stance on issues and other such important matters that customers would need to know. Through effective communication there is no room for ambiguity leading to an open, honest and transparent relationship – customers work better with businesses they can trust. Trust and rapport are what makes company’s gain a robust foundation in the marketplace and create a niche for themselves and have a loyal customer base.
Within the company, effective communication ensures that the environment has negligible conflict situations and stress levels remain low. A happy work environment ensures that people are more productive and able to focus on achieving personal and professional growth and partner with the company to make it successful. Staff morale and efficiency remains high leading to better customer service, innovative products and an overall high quality of output. When a company recruits people, they should be able to clearly communicate what the company stands for, the skills and knowledge required for the job and also be able to understand the potential of the persons they seek to hire. The company must be able to lay out clearly for the new employees the office culture, the values and the company’s long and short term goals. Without effective communication none of the above would be possible and they would end up recruiting the ‘wrong fits’ for the company causing long term damage.
Effective communication is not just about the words used – it goes beyond that. It is a combination of non-verbal skills, body language, active listening, controlling one’s emotions and putting one’s point across in the most effective manner. It is also the ability to understand the other person’s emotions and manage them to produce a fruitful result for both involved. Effective communication binds people together – it enables people within even stressful conditions to maintain cordial relationship and foster feelings of unity and teamwork. When people understand each other better they are able to make better decisions, solve issues faster and enhance trust levels.
Thankfully, effective communication can be acquired. It is not necessarily a skill that one must be born with. However, to develop this skill one must have an attitude of learning rather than believing that only their point of view matters – such an attitude could have disastrous results in a work environment, where people are from diverse backgrounds. Just like any skill, developing effective communication takes time, effort and a genuine interest. The more effort one puts in, the better they become at this skill. Development of this skill makes people more spontaneous thereby appearing more genuine and honest.
Even though effective communication can be learned, people within an organization could face some barriers. A workplace is often a breeding ground for stress and highly charged negative emotions leading people to misunderstand each other and indulge in behaviours that could lead to serious conflicts. This highly strung environment could detract from the focus that people have on communicating effectively with each other. Another reason for people within companies to ignore the utility of effective communication is the fact that shortage of staff forces people to be handling many tasks at once. Being involved in so many things leaves a lot of room for ambiguity or misinterpreting a co-workers words or non-verbal communication. Most people are unable to understand body language and others often give out conflicting signals – saying one thing while speaking and communicating something totally different through body language. Another reason for breakdown of communication is highly negative and disagreeable body language. While it is not always possible to agree with your co-worker (colleague, boss, subordinate or whoever one works with), it is necessary to remember that such disagreement not be shown through one’s body language. The unsaid ‘word’ is very easily misunderstood and could lead to unpleasant situations.
While one can improve one’s communication through the avoidance of the things mentioned, there are a number of things that one can do to improve communication skills. Developing the habit of listening actively and till the time the person speaking completes what they wish to convey, is an ideal way to become an effective communicator. Listening must be with the intent of understanding – words, emotions, non-verbal cues. Sometimes people only pretend to be listening and that is how important cues and information gets missed out leading to assumptions, erroneous deductions and tension between people. When one spends at least 8-12 hours in the office with people they don’t know well, not listening to one another can spell big trouble. A divided workforce cannot produce the results that a company desires and neither will people remain happy in such an environment. This in turn leads to employee attrition which lowers service levels and lowers product quality. As news of this disarray spreads, the company’s reputation can get irreparably damaged.
Effective communication helps a company to truly understand its employees. They would be able to take into account the needs and expectations of their employees and ensure that they create a bond and long lasting relationship with their employees. Employees that feel heard and valued will be more enthusiastic contributors and would do whatever it takes to lead the company they work with to success. Effective communication by the company to its employees will ensure that each person knows what is expected of them, what they can expect and how their personal goals fit in with the goals of the company.
With advancement in technology, companies now have access to many channels of communication meaning that they can reach out to their customers and other partners more easily. However, more channels of communication also mean that there is more scope on sending out confused or inappropriate communication. Companies must build the competency of sending messages via a number of channels in order to remain effective in their communication. A robust and well-articulated communication plan is therefore highly critical for companies to get their views across to all those they wish to reach out to. The plan must include lucid and crisply written content to ensure that the message they are trying to convey gets across in the first time. Great content will ensure that the messages are interesting and engaging, holding the attention of the readers for a long time. The content must be free of ambiguity and jargon and must rather use words that are easily understood.
Effective communication is not just about giving out information and getting information in return. It is rather an exchange of ideas and emotions that are responsible for the words and non-verbal cues being used. Effective communication is two-way and must take into account the interests of both parties to ensure that each side feels valued and understood.