Posted by: doug308 | February 18, 2011

Communication – Getting the Idea Across Effectively

If there is any one thing that I can point to in my experience that screws up more deals than anything else it is some form of miscommunication. Verbally that might be misstating facts, omitting important information, or simply assuming that the person you’re talking to knows what you mean (they usually don’t). In writing, that generally means misspellings, unchecked facts or grammatical errors. Whatever the form, you need to pay close attention to how you are trying to get your message across and in a phrase, don’t be a conversational slob.

Lesson 1 – Know Where You’re Going
Generally speaking you know in advance that you will be speaking with a client or conducting an interview. That means you have some time to think about what you will be presenting (the goal of the communication) and how you will say it, that forewarning means that you can write down a sort of road map for the conversation to keep yourself on topic (the ideas you need to touch on and desired result) and accomplish that goal. Business calls are important. Don’t shoot from the hip. Have your facts and figures ready. Schedule the time to talk and be in a place where you can do that uninterrupted. Be prepared to actively keep the conversation on track if things start to stray a little. And when the conversation winds down make sure that you know what you and they are supposed to do next. Many a deal dies on the vine because they thought you were following up with them and vice versa.

Lesson 2 – Just Ask or Tell
One of the first things they teach you in headhunter school is the simple rule “If you don’t ask you don’t know”. Sounds pretty basic, but the truth of the matter is that most folks really don’t do this. Instead they make an assumption like “I think I know what he’s/she’s saying” or “I think I’ve got it”. Well, if either of those things is crossing your mind you need to ask another question. Don’t “think” you’ve got it, ask and find out for sure. Where I see this issue creating problems of course is in the interviewing process where an employer “thinks” a person can do something only to find out after they start that they can’t. Or a candidate “thinks” they understand what the compensation plan is only to get an offer that is nothing like what they “thought”, but it happens in every day conversation all the time as well and you have to be sure of things (Ass-U-Me).

In fact as embarrassing as this is to admit, Dougtheheadhunter made this mistake recently at great cost. I forgot to ask one question of a client, “Should I not recruit from any given company?” Well, guess what? They did indeed have agreements with other companies. Because I didn’t ask I didn’t know and I e-mailed a number of folks at a couple of these companies. It created a great deal of trouble for my client and as a result they fired me. So as you can see a small omission or a single unasked question can create a big problem.

On the flip side if you have a piece of information you need to make sure someone knows you had better just tell them. It’s quick, it’s easy and there’s really no other way to accomplish the task.

Lesson 3 – Spell Check Is Not Enough
Writing can be a very difficult form of communication. It requires not only being able to compose an idea, but the ability to in effect present it visually as well. Moreover, whether is it an electronic communication or a hard copy it remains there for people to see forever and ever creating a long lasting impression. So take the time to proofread your communications multiple times. A good technique I have found for this is to literally get up and let the document sit for a little while and then come back to reread it. This can help prevent the natural tendency for your brain to see what you “think” you wrote rather than seeing what you actually wrote. Also don’t let spell check do all of your spell checking. Spell check does not pick up that you meant to write “to” instead of “too”. Nor is spell check perfect when it comes to grammar and syntax.

In the end bear in mind that poor writing skills can often leave an even worse impression than verbal miscues. In business a great deal of contact between companies and their clients occurs in writing and if your personal communication looks unprofessional what will perspective employer or employee think of you?

I’ll do more on this subject at a later date. But let me leave you with the same thought I began this entry with, “don’t be a conversational slob”.

Now let’s see how observant you area. Where are the mistakes in this entry?


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