by Laura Camacho, PhD
There’s art and science in business communication, don’t you think? You need to affirm and appreciate people AND you need them to change certain behaviors. One behavior change might be buying your product and another might be answering the office phone a certain way.
If you’re a skilled business communicator, people listen to you. Strong business communication starts with strong intention but is balanced with an awareness of wanting others to succeed.
In my experience, the people who are best at this skill usually:
- Speak often and briefly (think 15-30 seconds)
- Ask better questions (not too many open questions that escape the rabbit hole and not too many closed questions resembling a M6 interrogation)
- Make fewer solution statements early on
- Express their points in a sentence or two (so it’s easier to repeat them to others)
- Summarize throughout the conversation (this checks for understanding)
- Sincerely invites others to share their views
- Unless relaying a decision, presents views after others have had a chance to speak
- Actively omits fillers like ‘you know’ and ‘uh’,
- Not speak too rapidly or forcefully
- Simplify word choices and sentence structure and emphasize key take-aways
No one is a conversation genius all the time. Just last week I put my foot in my mouth at a networking event when I spoke too quickly and thought about what I was saying too slowly.
Your communication is a bucket of habits.
The habit I most often work with in my coaching work is listening. Instead of scolding and saying, “You need to listen better!” I invite them to be more observant and to play Sherlock by trying to discern motives and emotions present in the conversation.
Like any strong skill, it’s a matter of managing many micro-skills: setting a clear intention, listening, being concise, specific and respectful.
If you want to raise the bar on your business communication skills, pick one of the bullet points above and practice that micro skill for a few weeks.
Laura Camacho, MBA, PhD, PMP, is an executive coach, trainer and speaker who opened Mixonian Institute in 2009 to rid the world of boring business communication. She has created innovative training programs for local and international companies, related to leadership effectiveness, excellent feedback, growth mindset and emotional intelligence. Multilingual, Dr. Camacho’s career highlights include facilitating The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (in Spanish,) being editor of the leading management newsletter in Venezuela. For 10 years she taught communication classes at ECU and College of Charleston. www.mixonian.com
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