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Good Communications = Great Business

As everyone knows, successful communication is an essential ingredient to building a successful business. In fact, excellent communication is essential in all facets of our life. Yet, despite our apparent ability as humans to communicate, it is still an area that causes the most problems in our daily lives.

The communication basics
Good communication, like many things, is a process. It is made up of a message sender, a message receiver and the process or context in which a message is sent. This seemingly simple process is complicated many times over by our perceptions, misconceptions, environment, background and a host of other factors. But communication itself is only made up of three components:

  • Visual – the visual stimuli we receive when communicating
  • Verbal – the words we use; and
  • Vocal – the way the words are said

It surprising to realise that, the visual component of communication makes up 55% of the total message. That means things like hand gestures, facial expressions, body language etc give us more messages than the words that are spoken. The verbal component only makes up 7% of the message and the vocal component 38%. Yet, when we communicate with others, we tend to spend so much time on selecting the words to say and seem to neglect the way we say those words or the visual stimuli we give when saying them.

Communication from the beginning
Babies are surprisingly good communicators. They understand the importance of visual stimuli in communicating with their parents – smiling, squirming, kicking their legs, flailing arms etc are just some of the ways a baby “talks” to its parents. Verbal and vocal components develop later. Shortly after we are born, we start exercising the first of our communication skills – we listen. We then learn to talk, read and write – in that order. Our school years primarily focus on developing these three areas. Listening, the communication skill we use the most, is taught the least. So although we may be skilled communicators as adults, very often it is not in listening.

Lessons for business communication
When we apply the basics of communication to business, we start to understand why we are sometimes not successful. Let’s consider the two primary ways we communicate with our clients/customers:

  • Face to face – this gives us the opportunity to gather the visual, verbal and vocal information we need. Greater eye contact and listening will help in gathering the vital visual clues.
  • Over the telephone – the telephone removes 55% of the way we communicate. Since we no longer have access to the visual clues, we need to rely on our vocal and verbal components to get our message across. That means more checking our understanding, asking questions and confirming the listener has understood what we are saying.
  • In writing – writing removes 93% of our communication components so the words we choose are vital. Using clear, concise language appropriate to the reader will help improve written communication.

We believe it is vital you help your team understand the components of communication, how to recognise visual clues and the importance of listening. Providing regular feedback to all team members and even holding role play sessions will help improve communication skills.

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