Have you ever played the "whisper game"? One person thinks of a word or phrase and then whispers it to the person next to him or her. That person then whispers to the next person and so forth. On and on the word goes until the last person in the room announces it to the others. Usually the word at the end isn't even close to the one that started the game.
That is how it can be with communication in business. One person tells another and another and soon the message is so convoluted that it does not resemble the original truth. In Court there is a term called hearsay. It means that the person did not hear a specific thing directly and therefore cannot give testimony about it.
Sometimes people talk a great deal but never get to the point. They go on and on and on without answering a question. They talk around it and, even though they think that they are good communicators, they do not do as well as they think they are doing. There are several communication techniques that will help you in your business:
- Repeat what the person said to you in order to ensure that you understood them. Allow them to correct you if they had a different meaning.
- Summarize the key points. Be able to state the issues or topic of conversation in one line. That will force you and the client to be clear about the important things.
- Follow up in writing. Often, I will send a quick email to a client about the things we have agreed to do or the homework that is to be done. This prevents any opportunity for forgetfulness and again keeps things in a clear and focused manner.
- Talk directly to individuals with concerns - rather than hearing things third or fourth hand. It is better to be able to ask questions and gather information from a person at times rather than hear it from someone else.
- Make notes - Often I have clients who come to me and state "I have a million things going wrong". When I offer to write them down, we are both usually surprised to learn that there are only six or seven items of concern. Writing things down helps. You see when someone thinks about things they go around and around in one's head but when they are written down there is a beginning and an ending.
Each of us has a unique background and different ways that we communicate. It is therefore important that we continue to work hard at this so that it will help rather than hurt our business in the future.