Good communication is one of the most useful tools in your business toolbox, whether you are communicating with a colleague, supplier, customer or another business.
Good communication helps you and your team to meet deadlines, work more efficiently, deal quickly with conflicts, and increase customer satisfaction.
Bad or lackluster communication, on the other hand, can lead to bottlenecks, stress, lack of efficiency, loss of profits and poor relationships with your customers.
So just what is good communication?
Elements of Good Communication
Good communication is clear, concise and gets your point across with no room for doubt.
These principles don’t apply just to written communication such as emails, social media or marketing materials. They’re equally important when it comes to face to face communication, or on the telephone.
Good communication lets people know exactly what you are telling them or asking of them and leaves them clear on what you meant.
Good communication means the recipient can easily grasp the who, where, what, why and how, and ask follow up questions if need be without confusion.
Here are three ways you can ensure communication in your business is crystal clear and useful:
Encourage a Culture of Communication
If you want your employees to communicate well with each other, with you and with customers, the direction has to come from you.
A closed-door policy with managers who appear remote and inaccessible will breed a culture of formality, where communication is stilted.
An open door management policy where people are approached with respect on both sides, and a certain amount of casual getting-to-know-you conversation is encouraged will breed a culture of openness and clear communication.
Make Communication a Priority
It’s all too easy to push communication to the back of the priority list. After all, it’s not tangible and its usefulness, though undoubted, can be hard to measure in concrete terms.
But as pointed out in the article “Is Your Company Communicating Like It Should?“, a simple miss-communication can turn a small misunderstanding into a big problem.
Take for example ordering supplies.
You need a certain amount of supplies for a certain time, but the message doesn’t reach the person who is going to order the supplies clearly and they don’t realize the urgency. They order the supplies late, putting you behind, costing you in terms of time and productivity, and perhaps leading to unsatisfied customers.
By making clear communication a priority, you can avoid problems down the line.
Learn to Listen
Communicating clearly is just one half of the equation.
Good listening skills will also serve you and your team very well when it comes to communication.
Good listening means putting everything aside for a moment and giving your full attention to the person speaking to you, or to their email or social media message.
That means no multi-tasking, just undivided attention.
Make sure you’re clear on what they are saying before responding – ask for further clarification if you need to, and consider paraphrasing what they said to make sure you’ve got a good grasp of it.
Whether you’re dealing with a colleague, a client, a supplier or a new business contact, take the time to understand what they require from you and then make sure your answer speaks directly to that.
Fostering good communication and educating your employees on how to communicate effectively is one of the most valuable investments you can make in your business, having a positive effect across the board.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, SEO, business communications and listening skills.