We stress the value of communication in this blog, and there is good reason for that. It is, first of all, something to which people normally don’t give much thought; and secondly, everyone thinks they are good at it.
The truth is that a significant portion of professionals, if not most, cannot effectively communicate in a variety of areas. This article will attempt to persuade you that communication is paramount for running a business and to illustrate why it is so important.
Bottom line: Just don’t use text speak, even when you’re texting. Of course, you can say whatever you like when you’re sending personal text messages, but if it’s work-related, you’re better off just writing messages as if it were an email.
The first problem with using text speak for work-related messages is that it makes you look unprofessional; the second is that it makes you look really unprofessional. You’ll be forgiven for throwing in an “lol” every now and again, but if you don’t use any capital letters or commas, and half of your message is abbreviated, then the receiver might not forgive that.
Today, much of our communication is conducted remotely. We don’t have all of our meetings in person as they did only a few decades ago, but instead we now converse, collaborate, and generally communicate, sometimes entirely, through the proxy of technology.
There are devices and distance standing between you and the person listening to you, which means that your message has to be clear and frankly—well-written, which brings us to the main point of this.
Write to the Point
Most importantly, a business owner has to be able to write clearly and concisely; everything else is just semantics. Whether your writing is boring, contains tons of spelling errors, or even uses text speak, the only thing that really matters is that the person to whom you are writing knows what you are talking about.
When in doubt, focus on the journalistic guideline, “The 5 W’s”: Who, what, when, where, and why. Avoid being verbose, and try to convey your message in as few words as possible because the longer your message is, the more likely it is to be misunderstood.
The Cardinal Rule
One of the most common errors that professionals make when communicating with someone is assuming that the reason they don’t understand is the listener’s fault. 9 times out of 10, if someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it’s because you’re not explaining it clearly enough.
If you assume they are stupid, you will alienate the listener, and they’ll be so busy being irritated by you for insulting their intelligence, that they won’t listen to anything you’re saying. Then, you’ll have to start all over again.
Assumption Breeds Confusion
Another fatal assumption is the one where you think people somehow already know how you feel about something, or where you’re coming from. We all are guilty of this to some degree, and we all have to keep it in check because it can quickly cause a disconnect between you and whomever you’re speaking with.
This happens when, in your mind, something seems very obvious to you, so much so that you don’t even think you have to explain it. What is actually happening is that you are operating under the assumption that your listener can read your mind, but in reality, they don’t know what you’re thinking until you tell them.
Learning How to Be Clear
There is a rule-of-thumb for gauging how good of a communicator you are. Whenever you’re speaking or writing to a colleague or a client, for example, take note of how many times you have to repeat or explain the same thing to them. If it is only once in awhile, then you’re not doing too bad and may just need to hone your skills a little.
If you discover that you’re constantly repeating what you’re trying to convey to people in a variety of situations (this is not the listener’s fault), then you should probably get together with a friend who is a better communicator than you, and figure out where you’re going wrong.
If you’re a business owner who is reading this and thinking, “Maybe I do need to work on communication,” then you’re definitely not the only one. Business owners are men and women of action. They’re decision-makers, bottom-liners who know how to push a project forward but don’t always know how to transfer what they know to others. When you improve your communication skills, simply put, you’ll get more done.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.