Improving Relationship and Business Communications

I am constantly making presentations in just about every relationship and communication I have. Whether it is to persuade someone to my point of view, teach a life lesson to your child or to comfort a friend during a difficult time, we are in the process of trying to achieve effective, positive communication.

On the surface, the subject of communication can appear to be an abstract skill that is mainly needed for professional speakers/trainers, teachers and leaders of companies. But the subject of communication is a major skill and tool that we need to incorporate every day.

Now let’s move on to Part Two of Communication.

Have a great week!

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Communication/Presentation, Part Two—Improving Relationship and Business Communications

Over the years you’ve heard me say that if you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles—miracles in your family relationships, your business relationships and your friendships. So we must take advantage of every opportunity to practice our communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity and the emotions to affect other people. What a unique opportunity to touch others with something small but powerful—our words. Having said that, let’s take a moment to review the topics I am covering on the subject of communication this month:

1. Fundamentals of Effective Communication and Overcoming the Obstacles of Communication. Last week, I covered the basics of communication so you can say it well. This lays the groundwork for everything else I talk about this month. We also covered those obstacles that might get between you and effective communication.

2. Improving Relationship and Business Communications. I will cover the two basic kinds of communication: business communications and our everyday relationship communications. In this week’s edition, we will look at how to improve both, so we can excel and enjoy every area of our life.

3. Verbal and Nonverbal Communication and Listening Skills. Next week, I will cover the two kinds of communication I use and how to better use them. Most of us are aware of our verbal communication, but less so of our nonverbal communication. We will also take a look at how to be a better listener and why it pays to do so. We will cover this in next week’s edition.

4. The Essentials of Powerful and Effective Presentations and Using Communication to Further Your Dreams. This covers all you need to become a better speaker for when you are called upon to give a presentation. Whether you present once a year or once a week, the tips you get here will make a big difference. We will also cover how communication plays a significant role in the pursuit and achievement of your dreams—all of this in two weeks.

So let’s get to it!

The Goals:

The goals of business relationships differ from the goals of personal relationships, although they do entail utilizing some of the same interpersonal skills. The goals of business relationships are the following:

1. Build positive working relationships that allow us to work together for profitable, win/win business dealings.
2. Enhance the value of work production.
3. Create win-win, mutually satisfying business opportunities.
4. Produce a profit while providing the marketplace with value through our goods and services.

So, if the above are the goals of business relationships, then the goal of our business communications should support the overarching goal of the business relationship. Here are four qualifying questions that will help form guidelines necessary to accomplish this:

1. Does our business communication support positive working relationships?
2. Does our business communication support the value of the other party?
3. Does our business communication support win-win relationships?
4. Does our business communication support profit-making ventures and value to the marketplace?

In our communication with people (our employees, vendors, clients), our constant goal should be to uphold those basic values, in all aspects. It is easy to do this with a client who has just made a large purchase. It is far more difficult, but equally important, when we are working with someone whom we are having challenges. The idea is to be so in tune with our goals that it affects how we communicate with those we do business with.

Now I want to talk a bit about different kinds of communication and some tips to improving your skills.

There are five basic forms of communication in business today.

1. In Person: One-On-One
One-on-one meetings are very effective if done properly. The obvious downside is the limitation of time, especially if you have numerous people you need to meet with. Here are some ideas to make your one-on-one meetings more effective:

Brief the person you are meeting with beforehand on the topic. This defines the basic expectations of the purpose of the meeting and maximizes the time you have. More will be accomplished, and it prevents the possibility of having to schedule a follow-up meeting.

Be on time and end on time. This is paramount and communicates that you value the other person’s time.

Meet in an appropriate setting. Sometimes a coffee shop may be appropriate. Other times you will need to be in a meeting room. Take into account who the other person is, what you are hoping to accomplish and how much time you have. Is the meeting place conducive to communication? Be sure your chosen location enhances, not detracts, so that the possibility of missed communication is greatly reduced or eliminated.

Practice the communication skills we have studied in past lessons. Listening skills, speaking clearly, etc., are vital skills you need to put into practice here.

Sum up. At the end of the meeting, take a moment to sum up what you think you have heard and what you have attempted to communicate.

Follow up. This can be done with an email, a note card or phone call. Again, sum up what you spoke about and be sure to thank them for their time and the opportunity to meet with them.

2. In Person: Group Meetings
Brief the group beforehand on the topic. Just as with one-on-one settings, this creates expectations, enables everyone to be prepared and will maximize everyone’s time.

Again, start on time and end on time. A dual purpose is accomplished here—this communicates that you value their time and it says that no one person is more important than the group.

Appoint a note taker. One person should be in charge of putting the information on a whiteboard or AV screen while the meeting is in progress. This is an improvement over the traditional way of someone taking notes on paper because the meeting participants can see how the topics are being recorded and can immediately make corrections if there is misinterpretation.

Give everyone an opportunity to participate. Be diligent in keeping one or two people from dominating the meeting. Make sure you ask for the input of everyone. If they are valued enough to be invited to the meeting, their views are important.

Stay on task. The biggest time-waster of meetings is the proverbial “rabbit trail.” As the leader, or even if you are just attending the meeting, you should be willing, when the topic veers off course, to encourage the group to get back to the purpose of the meeting.

3. The Phone
The phone has wonderful applications for communication. There are some roadblocks with the proliferation of voice mail, but the phone still remains a great tool for communication. Here are some tips for making the phone work for your business communication.

Use it to keep in touch. The great thing about a phone is you can pick it up, dial and be connected with someone in just moments. Use the phone to stay in regular communication with your business contacts. A quick call to see how they are doing or to ask how you might be of help to them will not only bring you business but raise your profile in their mind as a person who provides great customer service and follow-up.

Schedule times for phone meetings. Sometimes, just picking up the phone is ineffective because the person you are trying to reach will not be able to talk at that time. If they aren’t available right then, take just a second and set up a time to speak with them. Ask them to schedule a time to speak by phone and then record it in your calendar/planner. The longer the time you need, the more advance notice you will need to give them.

Know what you are calling for. In personal relationships, people are much more willing to sit around and “shoot the breeze,” but not so much in business relationships. “Time is money,” as the old saying goes. Instead, with business relationships, we should tell the person we will be speaking with what the topic will be and what we hope to accomplish. This should be done beforehand. Then stick to the topic and don’t digress.

Don’t take too much time. The phone can also become a real time waster for both you and the people you speak with if you are not careful. If you know what you want to accomplish and discipline yourself to stick to the agenda, you will be able to limit your time and be very efficient with the use of the phone.

4. Written Communications
The written word is still very effective for communication. It can be more powerful than the spoken word in some instances because it can be edited before being released. In addition, it can be referred to again.

Some tips for written communications:

Keep it simple. Obviously there are some communications that need to be long and complex—elaborate contracts for example—but for the most part, our business communications should be very pragmatic. That is, they should simply get the job done; there is no need for trying to be too eloquent.

Use various forms to keep interest alive. A memo, a note card, a letter and email all are different methods that will entice the reader to read. Varying methods can help our message be communicated better.

5. The Speech
At times, you will be called upon to speak to an audience; this can be a powerful form of communication that will help build your business and your relationships. In two weeks we’ll cover speaking and presentations, and we will give you some tremendous tools for making your presentations a powerful and effective means of building your business!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Supplemental Notes

Just as I covered the goals of business relationship communications above, we’ll go over the goals of interpersonal relationship communications.

The first few goals are similar to those in business:

1. Build positive personal relationships.
2. Enhance the value of the other person(s).
3. Create win-win, mutually satisfying relationships.

The next few points are specific to the interpersonal relationships and essentially take the relationship aspect beyond where one would go in a business relationship. The difference is this: in a business relationship you create relationships that enable you to do business. The relationship is essential, but the end goal is the ability to do business.

Conversely, with interpersonal relationships, the goal is the relationship itself—to deepen it. Because there are a variety of standard interpersonal relationships—marriage, sibling, or friendships—these skills are meant to take the relationships to deeper levels. So here are the goals unique to building strong interpersonal relationships:

1. Deepen the relationship. In business, there isn’t the need for a deep relationship; it certainly has to be workable. With interpersonal relationships, the desire is to make them more meaningful.

2. Bring a greater, richer meaning to your life and the life of the other person. It isn’t necessarily what comes out of the relationship, but the relationship itself.

3. Have a stronger, more bonding connection. In business, a person may choose to shop elsewhere if they feel the prices have gotten too high. Relationships are not as temporal as that. The connections we make in interpersonal relationships are not as easily broken.

4. Serve one another. Interpersonal relationships are designed to help two people enter into a relationship with each other wherein they serve one another rather than seeking the other person to serve them.

So keeping these things in mind, the goal of interpersonal relationship communications is to establish, build up, increase, deepen and maintain the relationship itself. Let’s take a look at some ideas that can help us become better communicators and use that ability to communicate with others in order to deepen our relationships.

Interpersonal relationship communications involve:

1. Affection. This doesn’t mean telling your next door neighbor that you love him, but it does mean that we need to let people know how we feel about them and how much the relationship means to you. There are parents who have never told their children that they love them. Astonishing as this is, it is true. There are spouses who rarely speak words of affection to one another. And of course the result is that their relationships, while they may work, are not nearly as meaningful and rewarding as they could be. Do not neglect to communicate your affections.

2. Vulnerability. One of the ways relationships deepen is having vulnerability between the parties. This doesn’t happen as much as it could because people are fearful that the other person will reject them if they divulge information that will make them vulnerable (and unfortunately, there are too many times that people have rejected others for this reason). The power in being vulnerable is when the person you share your vulnerability with totally accepts you for who you are. So when it is appropriate, be sure to communicate vulnerability.

3. Fun. Of course business relationships may at times be fun, but for interpersonal relationships, having fun and communicating fun together is an integral part of the communication process. Be sure to talk about fun things sometimes.

4. Understanding. Seeking to know the other person and understand them. Of course there are varying levels of this. Friends do not need to know each other as deeply as spouses do. But an aspect of meaningful interpersonal relationships is the ability to communicate in ways that help the other person know you more deeply. Be sure to communicate in such a way that deepens your understanding of the other person, and vice-versa.

Interpersonal relationships can be challenging, and the communication aspect can be equally challenging as well, just as we discussed last week. However, great interpersonal relationships are possible. And when communication is working, the results are incredible. When we commit ourselves to working with others and communicating with them in ways that enable deeper relationships, the meaning those relationships bring us is what life is all about.

Published by N.J.W Blog

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