Archive for Communication Articles

How to Use Communication Skills to Market Your Business

431214_paper_peopleIf you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, who is looking for effective ways to market your business, you probably don’t think of your communication skills as a promotional tool.

All communication is a form of marketing or selling, no matter who you are speaking with. By sharpening your inter-personal skills you can increase the perceived value of your products and services.

Here are a few tips you can use to hone your soft skills for solid results:

1.  Smile more frequently. Wait—you probably think this is silly but the truth is that smiling changes everything. If you’re working long hours, trying to overcome challenges and dealing with frustrations you probably aren’t smiling much.

If you answer the phone or worse greet a customer in person while you’re managing the business of business, it’s unlikely that you’ll greet them with a smile. If you do remember to smile, I’m betting it won’t be genuine. This is unacceptable. You have a business because of those customers. Treat them with respect. Smile.

Smiling sends a powerful message about you and your business.  A stress-free, heartfelt smile invites clients or prospective customers to relax and trust you.  That’s a potent marketing tool. Don’t forget to smile when answering the phone. The tone and pitch of your voice will be more inviting—and people can tell if you’re smiling or not.

The best salespeople keep a small mirror by their phones to remind them to smile when they make or answer a call. Another tip is to post a note that says “smile-you’re making money” by your phone.

Studies show that men smile less frequently than women.  Perhaps they feel that smiling is sign of weakness, or they want to let you know who is in charge or they feel that an emotionless face helps to set boundaries.  The truth is that grinning while saying “no” to someone helps to preserve a business relationship. Whatever the reason, let it go and smile more. It costs nothing and the returns are priceless.

2. Clean up your conversation. This isn’t a reminder to lose the four-letter words from your conversations (that should go without saying.) It is a reminder to eliminate  rambling thoughts, garbled grammar, mumbling and jargon, from  your communication. You don’t hear yourself as others do so record a few phone calls and casual conversations to see how you really sound to others. After listening to the play back, ask yourself if you would do business with you?

This doesn’t mean you need to speak with grammatical perfection or even in complete sentences–that’s not how people talk.  It’s a nudge to take a moment to think about your purpose and intentions for what you are about to say in an effort to make it easier for others to follow you.

If your printed marketing materials send one message but your verbal communication sends another that’s a congruency problem. Get them aligned to increase your credibility!

3. Ask more questions. Listen more than talk. Your customers will tell you everything you need to know about what to market and what products they need. You’re in business to solve their problems so make sure you know what their problems are. Don’t assume you know. Ask questions. Do surveys. Invite suggestions. Don’t market a product you’re in love with but doesn’t serve the needs of your customer. Pay attention and ask clarifying questions. Your business depends on it.

These three essential communication skills don’t cost time or money but they can increase your value to your market.  Smile.

The Myth that Verbal and Visual Communication are More Important than Words

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The popular but erroneous claim spouted by speakers (and some organizations) that body language and the sound of your voice is more important than words (to the tune of 93%)  misinterprets the findings of the original studies conducted by Dr. Albert Mehrabian.

According to Mehrabian[1], the three elements (words, tone, body language) account differently for our liking for the person who puts forward a message concerning their feelings: words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55% of the liking. They are often abbreviated as the “3 Vs” for Verbal, Vocal & Visual.

This 7/38/55% Rule has been misinterpreted as applying to all communication. It’s just not true.

Our actions or visual clues take precedence over words ONLY when the two are sending different messages when someone is speaking about feelings.  If I verbally agree with you while looking away and shrugging you might realize I’m not true to my words even though you heard me agree.

If the 3 elements  did apply to all communication, well, we wouldn’t need words  much would we? It would be akin to living in a silent movie without the captions. But, I ask you to spend some time watching a movie with the sound off (no captions) and see just how long you’ll be able to follow the story (and get it right.)

So are words important? You bet.

A single word can change a life. Words can make marriages and break marriages. Words can inform, educate and direct.  They can soothe, console and convey sympathy. They can inspire and spark our imagination.  Words cause pain, elation, anger, hope, and disappointment.

Yes, all three communication elements add to our message. Words alone without tone have caused untold misunderstandings. Consider email. The receiver often adds the tone and just as often gets it wrong!

Ultimately, all the elements need to send a congruent message if we want the interpretation to be as we intended.

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To learn more, pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–what to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.

^ a b Mehrabian, Albert (1971). Silent Messages (1st ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. ISBN 0-534-00910-7.

 

How to Quickly Communicate with Anyone and Avoid Misunderstanding

1005753_jpear1earOne of the great understandings in life is the realization that not everyone thinks the same way that you do. And so it goes with communication.

Misunderstandings occur when you fail to communicate in the way others want to want to listen. The solution is to make a shift in your style that better matches the recipient. You do this by using words, intonation, pacing and gestures that resonant with them.

The challenge is to incorporate this into your daily communication.

Here are some guidelines for making a quick determination of communication style types:

  • When greeting someone for the first time, notice how quickly they move. Is it quick and determined or slower and relaxed?
  • What about their gestures? Are they sharp and staccato, animated, measured or barely visible?
  • Is their posture displaying confidence, timidity, friendliness or overload?
  • Do they appear approachable or inaccessible? Do they make direct eye contact or shy away?
  • What emotion does their face reveal? Do they have an easy smile and grinning eyes, a polite half-smile and concerned eyes, little or no smile with darting eyes or a resolute mouth and purposeful eyes?

You can begin to make changes in the way you approach and communicate with others by noticing these physical characteristics. Make it a game to observe the people you work with, on the street and at home.

Quickly shift your energy and physicality to better match theirs and watch what happens. Think of this as dancing with different partners. You don’t need to become someone else you simply need to learn how to move together so you glide smoothly across the room without stepping on each others toes.

The study of communication styles is exhaustive but if you apply this simple method you can begin to communicate with less effort and enjoy fewer misunderstandings.

If you would like to learn 29 more tips and techniques just grab your FREE 6-part audio series on “The Power of Effective Communication” by putting your name and email in the boxes on your upper right.  Or simply pick up a copy of Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work-What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Get it today at Amazon.