Hints & Tips Blog

Is communicating the art of understanding or being understood?

Over the last year, businesses through necessity have had to increase their use of technology for business communications.

Unfortunately, this has meant increased use of one-to-one emails and a mass mailing of important updates. It has also meant video calls and group collaboration. Don’t get me wrong, these activities have been vital for businesses to continue to function, but as a business leader, it is as important to consider the purpose of communication and not just the content.

Email is great for communicating large volumes of information, action points from meetings and circulating agendas ahead of a face-to-face or video call meeting. It is very useful and effective for delivering a business update to a wide audience, where you want to put across to a large group a consistent message. It can also be used when praising a team’s collective performance with an appreciative note.

However, too often I see it used by business leaders to save themselves time and in the mistaken belief that the task is to deliver a message to someone, and that once it has been sent, the task is complete.

This is not the case, communication is also about understanding how people absorb information, listening to people ideas and views, collaborating on specific work projects.

Communication is as much about understanding as it is about being understood

Good business leaders need effective communication skills and effective communication is two way.

Here are our top tips to help you on the path to more effective communication:

  1. Use verbal communication to maximise its effectiveness by taking the time to speak to someone. Explain what you want to get out of a conversation and ask them too. This is particularly important in regular one to ones or updates where there is a risk that the sessions become repetitive.
  2. Make more use of voice tone and volume. This is harder on video calls but still possible. To reinforce a key message speak softly and slowly, speaking quietly encourages someone to listen to you more intently. Don’t be frightened of silence, it gives people a chance to reflect on and absorb a conversation.
  3. Listen. Giving someone else the time and opportunity to speak often allows them to develop their own thoughts. It is also a very powerful tool in developing new ideas and developing solutions to problems.
  4. Interact with them. Let them ask questions and clarify their points by reflecting on what they have said. Remember – it is what they hear that is important to them and not what you say.
  5. Clear your mind ahead of a conversation and focus on listening, don’t get distracted and avoid looking at your phone or other electronic devices whilst they are speaking.

There is nothing new in any of this, but it is important to reflect on your behaviours and your style,  increasing your awareness of situations and what is the best method of communication will greatly increase your effectiveness.

Our team at BHP Consulting have all successfully run businesses, and we understand that every business is unique. Our practical approach to supporting our clients enables us to share our real-world experience to positively impact the performance of your business. To arrange a call or an exploratory face-to-face meeting, please click here.