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5 Steps for Clear Communication in Business

26 November 2012

1. Stay out of your own head

This is vital; as often people think they are ‘out of their head’ when in fact they are busy formulating answers and solutions to what is being said, instead of encouraging others to come up with their own solutions.

I call this the ‘know nothing state’.  If you were talking to a quantum physicist and knew nothing about quantum physics, then you would be in a state of ‘knowing nothing.’  You would be unable to even talk about the subject until you had more of an understanding of that subject.  The only way to understand something is by asking the right questions until you are clear about what is being said.

Well the same applies when communicating with people you work with.

Often people think that they are communicating clearly when they are telling others what to do.  If time is tight this is ok however, this way of talking to people does not build an open and honest communication framework that encourages people to think for themselves.  In business it is important to have the full facts to be able to make good choices.

Good communicators know to ‘park’ their thoughts and question others specifically to clarify what the facts are.  This way others are involved in the communication process and a number of possible choices can be discussed.

2. Really listen to others

People will tell you what they want and how they can do this, usually with the first few moments of speaking with you.  If you are not listening then you will miss the golden opportunity to get to the point of the discussion quickly.

Listening carefully links in with step 1 – the ’know nothing state’.  Only when you notice how busy your internal dialogue is then can you lean to turn it down.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to sit down for 10 minutes and start writing everything that comes into your mind.  Keep going without editing and notice how your mind flits about from subject to subject.

When you are aware of how busy your mind is, tell yourself to ‘listen’ or ‘focus’ when communicating with others.  Instead of listening to your own internal ‘stuff’ focus and pay attention to what others are saying and notice their voice tone and the body posture.  Are they really asking you to solve something for them or just need you to help them get more choices?

3.  Help others get clarity of thought

Often just voicing what we are saying to ourselves gives clarity of thought. 

When people say something like “I can’t do this” it is natural to want to respond with “of course you can”.  However that type of response creates an opportunity for the person to start listing all the reasons as to why they can’t do this.

More resourceful questions to ask are “what specifically can’t you do?” “What is stopping you?” “What needs to happen for you to be able to this”? 

It is impossible to answer these questions without thinking about the answer.

These questions create solution mindsets when possible choices are considered rather than staying focused on a problem.

The choices could be that they may need help in believing they can do this or need training or they may need outside help.The more choices you have the less chance you have of being stuck in a situation with now clear solution.   

4. Keep it simple

Why use 100 words when 10 will do?   The clearer you are about what you want to achieve the easier others will understand.  Have an intention for what outcomes you want from a conversation.  If you are not clear about what you are saying then others will quickly become confused. 

5.  Make it easy for others to talk to you

Be approachable, as people don’t open up in an honest and clear way with people they are not comfortable with.  When others know that they are valued as they are being listened to and understood they tend to talk freely.  People like people that are like them.  The more you are able to see things from the perspective of others the more people want to talk to you.

Often in business it is during informal chats that people open up and let you know what is on their mind.  Confidentiality is important here as good business leaders know what is going on as people confide in them knowing that what they say will go no further. 

Good gossips make bad communicators!!!

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Fiona has taken NLP to the next level by simplifying the techniques and applying them specifically to the business world. 

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November 22, 2012

1st Mo HarfordManaging Director, Momentum Training and Development Ltd