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November 16, 2017

Bad Communication Begets Bad Results


By Robbie Brown

Change your message and see results.

In the pursuit of business, executives, managers and buyers are constantly sending out requests and directives to others both within and outside their companies. How these messages are received, perceived and acted upon is directly related to the tone and quality of the sender’s communication. In some cases, the lack of communication, or simply bad communication, can produce a very negative and counterproductive effect.

When it comes to dealing with customers, vendors, sales reps and company personnel, any communication must be clear, direct, positive and beneficial. If this is not the case, the response can be downright damaging.

Given the extreme importance of good communication, what’s the takeaway? Simply this: Good communication produces good results, and bad communication produces damage!

Some people seem to be natural leaders. They are respected and they get things done. They have the capacity to direct, correct and challenge without imperiling the mission. They do this because they are diplomatic and effective communicators. By contrast, some persons just tend to irritate others and build a consensus of disregard and dislike — in business, this is a costly flaw.

Let’s look at some examples of those communications which are negative (and costly) compared to similar messages that are far better (and effective).

Store Signage

An in-store sign that reads “All Sales are Final” or “Returns Must be Made Within 30 Days of Purchase” is negative and sends the message that the customer must follow the company’s policies or else. There is certainly no customer appreciation shown here.

A more positive message is a sign that reads, “It is Our Pleasure to Accommodate Any Reasonable Customer Request.” This says to the consumer “We love you and appreciate your patronage.”

Staff Directives

A communiqué to employees that reads “All company directives and policies must be adhered to without deviation or exception” will likely be interpreted to mean that employees should hold their opinions and blindly follow the company mantra without deviation or question. Words and actions that perpetuate the sense that employees are just brainless worker-bees are negative. By contrast, a communication that welcomes and appreciates the opinions of all associates is positive.

Vendor Relationships

When speaking with vendors, it is important to project a desire to increase and improve the business relationship versus projecting an adversarial relationship. Something as simple as asking the rep how you can increase your business with that vendor will produce great results and relationship longevity. Compliment, not just criticize.

Avoid Conflicting Messages

When communicating with anyone, make sure you are not sending conflicting messages. Whatever you have to say to whomever, it’s important that you communicate with prioritization or a timetable and clearly define your expectations. Be clear about what you want and/or expect; silence can hurt, so be heard.

Be Inclusive

Approach all communications with staff, customers, vendors or anyone with a positive and respectful attitude. Ask the other person what they think about the situation. Ask for their input and opinion. Hear them out. Even if you override their requests or opinion, you have at least given them the opportunity to be heard.

Keep Your Word

Of paramount importance is keeping one’s word if you have committed yourself to doing something for another party. Nothing erodes respect and confidence as quickly as committing to doing something and then failing to produce on that promise.

Be Up Front

Finally, in any communication oral or written, in the first sentence state what you are talking about. For example, state, “I’m writing to you today to discuss your new return policy.” Of equal importance, at the conclusion of your talk, letter or email, clearly express what you want the other person to do, i.e., ask for action. For example, you might say, “Please send me the replacement part without charge.”

Your value and worth as a businessman or woman are tightly entwined with your ability to communicate effectively. Your prowess and net worth are proportional to your communication skills, so improve and perfect them.

 

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