Tips on more effective communication.
Whether you're writing a report, a letter, or a presentation, ask yourself:
- Who's the audience?
- What are they looking for?
- How much detail do they want or need?
- How will the information I have help them in going forward?
- How much background information do they need?
- Is anyone likely to be hostile toward what I have to say?
- Are they familiar with industry jargons?
- What kinds of examples and analogies will be most helpful to them?
You can't cut to the chase unless you know to whom you are talking.
Use momentum to keep major projects on course:
- Make momentum part of the plan. Don't move ahead until everyone knows how to create momentum.
- Grab low-hanging fruit. Select a few major "wins" and tackle them before doing anything else.
- Go for just one big win. One important thing, and really deliver on it.
- Celebrate early successes publicly. Celebrate. Congratulate everyone. Give updates and praise people involved.
Which ad would catch your attention? "Loaded with fiber and vitamins" or "will lower your blood pressure, cholesterol level, and help prevent a stroke"?
Don't just tell people the benefits - show them how it will benefit their lives.
BAD: "This car has antilock brakes and passenger-side airbag." GOOD: "This car will save your life."
BAD: "We will prepare your taxes and send them to you, ready to sign." GOOD: "Our customer's tax refunds are 25% higher than the average."
BAD: "You will be working on a cross-departmental team." GOOD: "You'll be increasing your visibility in the company and working with people who can jump-start your career."
BAD: "This speaker specializes in leadership." GOOD: "The last guy who hired this speaker said, 'He made me look like a hero and inspired my people to raise our profits by 80%.'"
CLOSE THE LOOP:
If your doctor says, "We'll call you if there's a problem" - and there's no call 2 weeks later, you're still wondering.
When people don't close the loop, they leave the other person hanging. It's not only distracting, but subtly erodes the relationship.
Never let yourself be known as someone who leaves other people hanging. Once that label is applied, it's hard to shake.
Consistently close the loop, and build a reputation as a dependable professional.
BEAT CHANGE TO THE PUNCH:
Carl Jung: "If there's a fear of falling, the only safety is deliberately jumping."
Scan trade publications and talk with peers to discover new technologies, business practices, or processes that might help you do your job better.
Before you ask anyone else to be involved, ask, "Do I really need this person's time? Can I do it on my own?"
If you need the other person, define specifically what you need. Explain why their involvement is important.
Give them everything they need to get up to speed. People don't mind giving their time if they feel it's valued and helpful.
It's your reponsibility to have thought that through before you approach them.
IF YOU WANT SOMETHING, ASK FOR IT
Don't beat around the bush. Don't assume people will know what you need. Don't make them guess.
The more specific you are about what you need, the faster you'll get it.
If asking an employee or peer, clearly frame your request and set a deadline.
MAKE SURE EVERYONE HAS THE MAP
As if you're driving to the same destination in different cars, if everyone has the map, you don't need to wait for the slowest one.
The it doesn't matter if you get separated, you all end up in the same destination.
TELL THEM WHAT'S ON THE TEST
Tell people how they will be measured, so they can focus on the most important things.
To reinforce performance, link a portion of the compensation to their performance in those areas.
CUT THE BULL
Too many business conversations go nowhere because one person is afraid of offending the other.
Say what you mean. Don't sugar-coat it. Make your point clearly and assertively, without being aggressive.
Indirectness erodes trust and can cloud the issue. It wastes time and can hurt your career.
When you've got something to say, say it and move on. Even if people don't agree with you, they'll respect you for your honesty and candor.
EVERY CONVERSATION SHOULD HAVE A PURPOSE
Business calls and lunches drag on long after the goal has been met. Informal meetings get sidetracked and nothing gets accomplished.
Why? They failed to prepare as they would for any other meeting. Ask yourself these 4 questions well in advance of call, talk, or lunch:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- What do I need from the other person?
- What information do I want to share with this person?
- What can I do to add value for this person?
One exception : if the purpose of meeting is to build a relationship, don't formally state your objective. However, make sure you've shared or learned everything you'd hoped to by meeting's end.
SNAP OUT OF YOUR RUT IF...
- You've grown extremely comfortable in your current role, succeeding easily without exerting yourself.
- Everyone comes to you for answers, and you stop learning new things yourself.
- You're happy, but waiting for something to truly test your resolve. (That something won't present itself. You need to go find it.)
- Your success is overly dependent on one relationship.
Don't let unhealthy perfectionism keep you from cutting to the chase. Know when to let things go.
Will anyone but me appreciate my efforts?
Can I significantly improve this if I keep working?
Does the possible gain in quality outweigh the lost time?
DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE
If you're making a lot of different mistakes, you're learning.
If you're making the same mistakes more than once, you're wasting time.