When I was young and learning what it was to have my own personality and developing my own view of the world, I decided one of my biggest pet peeves was repeating myself. This is how I know God has a sense of humor. I am blessed that none of my children have medically diagnosed hearing problems, but you wouldn’t know that by the conversations in our house.
My oldest is eighteen and my youngest is 3. I have now resolved to the fact that every word out of my mouth will require repeating. Annoying as this sounds, it has gotten to such a habitual pattern that often when I finish the last word in my statement, I take a breathe in preparation to repeat my last utterance, even if they don’t say “huh?”
Being prepared to repeat myself is my own form of therapy to help me deal with my desire not to be repetitive. This, however, is no way to run a small business, or any business for that matter. Specific to a small business, when you are wearing so many hats, time becomes a precious commodity that is not easily tossed to the echo.
Often times in our digital age, we like to look at software or apps to give us the solutions and strategies to manage our time. Today, I would like to counteract that initial reaction and help you understand that the best way to create a positive communication environment is actually by investing in spending some time in the setup of your business.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever built a piece of furniture or kids play equipment that required more than 10 steps to assemble.
Okay, put your hand down and focus back on this post.
Every time I open one of these projects, the ego in me jumps up screaming as loud as it can and says that I have the ability to put this together without any of the instructions. I was a Torpedoman in the United States Navy, for crying out loud, and I don’t need any instructions written for a child to put together this pretty pink kitchen set.
I am always wrong.
I will say if those toy companies really want to improve this customer’s experience, they can invest a little more time in hiring good copywriters to make this dad’s life a little better.
But I digress.
Even in something as insignificant to our everyday lives as a child toy set, we have learned that some things in life are complicated enough to have a firm plan to ensure we don’t have any extra parts. I implore you today to look at your business in the same light.
Whether or not you have employees working for you, the truth is in your business each day you are communicating something to your clients about the passion that is driving your business. Don’t you think your passion deserves to be communicated correctly and effectively?
I sure do!
So let’s circle back to the play set with poor written instructions. Would a software you’re required to download improve the building of the set? Would an app you can download on your phone help? Would any system of any kind help you find part E5 to pair with Q16?
No it won’t. All another tool will do is change the format in which you are using to put the set together. Now, I will admit that some plans are better on the phone instead of an 10-fold flimsy piece of paper, but the message hasn’t changed.
When we are getting our business setup or bringing more people to share our passion, here are a few tips that I have learned will vastly improve communication and ensure those who work with you share the same book, same page, same paragraph, same sentence, and the same word.
- Honesty: No matter how difficult the message is to get across, muddying the waters with sarcasm or any other communication mask will only cause people to misunderstand the true intent of your message.
- Grace: Practice this one on your kids. Often it is hard for us to read our audience. If we open the doors of communication with grace, it will allow people to ask clarifying questions and keep the confusion limited.
- Short and Sweet: Our attention span as a species is sadly quite limited. Next time you are in a conversation with someone droning on about something you don’t like, time how long it takes before you check out.
- Judge Not: Have you ever had an idea that was perfect in your head then when you said it out loud everyone looked at you like you were crazy? Guilty as charged here. Often times our internal thoughts are not easily conveyed and even more difficulty interpreted. When people don’t understand the message you are conveying, don’t automatically assume they don’t care, maybe the fault lies with the speaker.
- Know your audience: Another way to say this is to do your homework. Would you speak the same way to a group of 7 year olds compared to a room of college professors? Of course not. The burden to convey your message properly is not on your audience, but on you to know how to speak to their level.
The last thing I would like to say is the amount of time you spend upfront before communicating to your team or even building your team will pay off in spades with less frustration on both sides of the conversation. If communication isn’t your strong suit, worry not, there are plenty of experts there to help.