Back to Basics – Communication 101
No, I mean really talk.
Because unfortunately, in this day-and-age, we have become accustomed to not being able to fully express ourselves. We don’t spend enough time connecting face-to-face or conversing via phone, so we have resigned ourselves to keeping our thoughts, ideas, or feelings to ourselves. We are comfortable with short replies or even one letter responses to our questions like “K” because at least you got an answer! But for me, this lack of basic communication is starting to impact the health of some of my personal and professional relationships, and I figured that I may not be alone in this.
While it may feel like it’s more efficient, faster, and less complicated to text or email, by not communicating face-to-face or by phone we miss out on getting to know each other on a deeper level and we don’t get to enjoy the benefits of making a connection with one another. As a business owner – with limited time to do everything you need to do – you may forgo a staff meeting for a quick email or you will shoot out a short text to a client rather than make a phone call because it saves time. But those savings may be more costly than you realize. If you are willing to get more connected to your team or clients join me in a little basic Communication 101.
If it’s been a while since you spent time with your staff in person or you haven’t had quality one-on-one time with a client, and you are feeling a little rusty getting the flow of communication going here are some tips.
- Ask an open-ended question. Even though this is a “business” or professional relationship you can start to open the lines of communication with a simple question like, “What’s been going on with you lately?” The receiver can interpret this however they wish – they can make it personal or keep it professional. But no matter their answer it’s neither right nor wrong. Hopefully, their response ignites additional questions from you, or it inspires you to share something that has been going on in your life or workplace. What it should do is begin to break down any walls so that you can begin relating and connecting to one another.
- Be sure your recipient feels heard. There is nothing worse than being in conversation with someone when you realize the person in front of you isn’t listening. They asked you a question and you answered it, but two minutes later they repeated themselves because they didn’t listen the first time. If you are ready to engage with a team member or a client, make sure there aren’t any distractions. It goes without saying to put your phone down or hold your calls. Being a sincere and active listener will help the person in front of you relax and offers them the space to share.
- Open yourself up. Sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings can be stressful for both parties, but if you are initiating the conversation, make things light (this advice isn’t necessarily for a disciplinary situation although, it can help diffuse the mood). Drop your shoulders, relax your arms, let your body language reflect an open, safe environment. Start the phone call off with an upbeat tone or smile big when opening up the face-to-face encounter. Do something that shows the person that you want to spend this time with them.
I realize these steps are simple, but sometimes being reminded of them is just what you need to get back to doing the things you “used to do.” By making basic communication skills a habit there’s no limit to the positive impact it will have on your relationships!