Whatever your position in business, it’s universally acknowledged that knowledge is power. If you want to use information to support the success of your company, then you could consider brushing up on your communication skills. The ability to absorb and disseminate information can be a game changer in uniting your business and steering everyone forward on the same path. So what are the communication skills that might help you to manage the information flow?
If you want to be as successful as you can be in business then you need to become a conduit for the information that flows into and out of your company. Being open to the knowledge that surrounds you could give you valuable tools for improving your performance and driving increased productivity. So how do you tap into this valuable flow of information?
It’s widely acknowledged that the most important communication skill for gathering information is listening. It’s the best way to find out everything you need to know about what’s going on in your business, your market and amongst your network.
The challenge is that listening is something that everyone does, but not everyone is skilled at. There’s a lot more to listening than just being in the same room – or even on the end of a conference line or phone call – from someone. Hone your listening skills with these simple steps.
If you’re ready to get really good at listening the first thing you need to do is physically and mentally remove the distractions. It’s not easy when you run a company to put all of your attention into one conversation – but the speaker will definitely notice it when you do. Switch off and put down your phone, close your office door and ask not to be disturbed, simply turn your body to face the person speaking and look away from emails or documents on your computer screen. If you can mentally and physically focus, your listening skills will be all the more impressive for it.
Acknowledge and react
You can demonstrate your attentiveness by reacting appropriately to what you are hearing: verbally and physically acknowledging the message through words and gestures. Steer clear from any emotional reactions – especially if you’re hearing dramatic news. The more emotive the message the more important it is that your reaction is purely business focused. Acknowledging the conversation ensures that the other party understands that you are engaged in what they are saying.
Repeat what was said
Repetition is a valuable tool in listening as it serves a dual purpose – allowing you both to confirm that you have been listening, while at the same time giving you the opportunity to check that you’ve got your facts straight.
Once you’ve had the chance to get your facts straight by repeating the message, you may find you’d like to drill down further and find out more about specific areas of information. This is a great opportunity to ask some clever questions. Questions demonstrate to the speaker that you’re engaged in the subject matter while giving you the chance to fact find and get more information to support your understanding.
Not just sounds (body language)
Communication – and especially listening – is not just about paying attention to verbal queues and expressions on the part of your speaker or audience. It’s also important to read the physical signals. Often you may discover that physical and verbal messages don’t necessarily line up – offering an opportunity for further enquiry and investigation. Take time also to consider your own physical expression and the role that this has in your communications – whether you are the speaker or the listener. It’s important to take control and ensure that your body as well as your words conveys the right message.
If listening is the most valuable skill you can gain in order to gather information, where should we place importance when it comes to sharing it? As a first step it’s incredibly important to understand your audience, and what the message is that you’re trying to convey. It’s a worthwhile investment to spend some time upfront being very clear on what it is you’re trying to communicate, and making it as clear and concise as possible. Once you’ve got your message sorted, consider these steps to share information as effectively as possible.
Who is your audience?
The better your understanding of your audience, the more effective you can make your communication with them. Knowing who you’re speaking to gives you a fast-track to better information sharing. You can not only position your message appropriately, you can also make sure your message is relevant by creating a context and involving your listeners in future scenarios.
What do you represent?
Having learned about your audience, you can then focus on the brand and business that your communication will represent. As every brand has a personality of its own, this should be considered and captured in the content and delivery of your information sharing.
Language is incredibly important to clearly articulating your message and engaging with your audience. It’s too easy to disengage your audience with words that could be considered pompous or tactless, so take time making sure you pitch your content to the right level. Simultaneously it will be important to consider your brand in your choice of language as every communication should strengthen your brand position.
Target your content
In an ideal world your audience is eagerly listening and engaged: but unfortunately in reality this is a rare occurrence. When you make your message as concise as possible you should also consider its relevance to your audience and ensure you are aiming for maximum impact. Why not make a point of sticking to the point and talking for less time than people expect – audiences are rarely heard complaining about either trait.
Wherever you are sharing information – whether in an auditorium or a cafe – the process will be most productive if you can actively involve your audience. As everyone in business knows, it’s much easier to get people to buy into a solution if they feel they have been part of designing it. This holds true with information sharing and getting people to buy in to your proposed outcomes. Consider including some well designed questions in your communication and see what responses you get – there’s always value in audience input and it will help to engage them in your message.
While there are many contributing factors in building the success of your business, there is little doubt that information sharing plays an important role. Entrepreneurs who are noted for their business success often cite their ability to listen to the problems that are faced by their staff, customers or network as forming the foundation for the next great idea. Staff who are listened to actively are more engaged and therefore more likely to contribute positively to the growth of a business. By sharing information with all your interested parties you engage them with your journey and make sure they have a vested interest in your success. With information sharing playing such an important role, there is no doubt that it’s worth taking the opportunity to brush up on some key communication skills to make taking information in and getting your message out even more effective.
Introducing Fifo Capital
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