Last week I discussed effective communication and how to communicate effectively. This week, I will go into a bit more detail on communication, and discuss how to delight your clients, customers, and team through effective communication.
Effective communication is communicating in a way that enables the recipient of the message (listener) to clearly understand what is being stated.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn’t, but it can be! Communicating can be done effectively following a few steps.
1. Understand how the listener communicates
Effective communication is based on the recipient understanding the message, so the first step would be to figure out how the recipient (client, customer, team member, etc.) communicates best, or how they prefer to communicate. Some prefer email while others prefer text, phone, or face-to-face communication. Some prefer charts, graphs, or pictures while other prefer videos and others prefer simple text.
This is important to recognize. For example, if you are trying to communicate to someone by email but they are rarely on email, you may never actually get the message through! If you are calling and leaving voicemails with no response, maybe that person does not like to talk on the phone. Provide a text document to someone who prefers pictures, and your document will likely not be read.
2. Establish a common language
Each industry has their own acronyms, jargon, methods, and so on. If you are communicating to others in the same industry, you likely have a common language to some degree. However, even the different departments within a given organization will have different language that may not be easily understood by another department. Better yet, try speaking to another department in a different organization from another industry – good luck!
But we can make this easier. Spend some time to learn some of the common jargon and acronyms used. If something is said or written that you do not understand, then ask for clarification. Conversely, if you are going to use jargon, then explain what it means the first time you use it so the recipient has something to reference. Over time, both sides will gain a better understanding of each other and establish a more common language.
3. Establish frequency and response time
Some people love to text all day long, others email several times a day, while others live on their phone. Establish an expectation of how frequent and fast communication needs to occur.
Why is this important?
Say you and I are working together, and I expect a response in a few hours and daily responses at a minimum, but you are ok with 24-48 responses. If I email you at 9:00 am, I would expect a response by 11:00 or 12:00. If I don’t see anything, then I may begin to feel ignored and then follow up with another email, phone call, text, and so on. If that happens, you are going to begin thinking I am hounding you since you don’t expect to respond for another day or so. Now, we are both frustrated.
4. Determine length
Have you ever received an email response back with a simple response of “TLDNR”?
What does that mean, you ask? Too long did not read! Ha!
Determine the optimal length of the message (verbal or written) and do not go past it unless you must. Emails that could easily be published as books generally do not get read. A 6 minute voicemail will be deleted without being heard. Also, if someone expects a detailed response, and they receive succinct bullet points with little explanation, you are likely going to receive more questions than you would like to answer – especially if it is from your boss!
5. Consistency and flow
Communicating consistently helps the recipient anticipate how or what will be said. Establish a style that fits your personality and meets the need of the recipient. This helps reduce the follow-up questions as the format and style are expected and are easily followed.
Similarly, develop a fluid way of communicating. Don’t bounce around from topic to topic confusing the subject. Make it easy to follow what is being said, written, or displayed.
So, the steps are:
How do you delight your client, customer, or team?
I’m glad you asked!
Once you figure out how they communicate, using a shared language, as frequent as expected, with enough detail, consistently, do just that. Just know that it takes time. Most people do not take the time or pay enough attention to learn these steps. Don’t let that be you!
Too easy you think! I told you effective communication is easy (well, it sounds easy). The challenging part is figuring it all out and actually use it! You married couples out there know what I’m talking about here! But once you figure it out, and use it, you will surely delight all whom you communicate with – your clients, customers, and team.
Until next time.