All of us are familar with the fact that immediately after birth babies tend to cry. Many have debated as to why this is so. Is there a scientific reason behind it? Or is it merely due to the fact that they just got shot out of their nurturing mother's womb into the world?
One thing is for sure, crying is a form of communicating. Babies cry in order to inform us that they need to be taken care of. While a babies cry is an effective way to let its mother know that they need something, it's not very specific and can be very distressing. What I'm trying to explain is as we grow, so does our means of communication.
Fast forwarding to the grownup world, anything that involves two or more entities working together will inevitably result in the need for communicating. In the adult world, we can no longer just cry our eyes out to get what we want. We must be able to effectively send information as well as receive it.
Effective communication is ALWAYS a two-way street.
In the business world, it is vital that the client and the service provider's needs along with expectations are properly conveyed to both sides from the get-go. If only one side is active in communicating, then this will only slow down a project. While it is important to setup a good foundation of communication from the start, it is also equally important to keep it that way until the end of an assignment.
Don't let technicalities get in the way of communicating.
Often clients will not understand the technical stuff that we deal with everyday. This is why we must make sure to be very clear with clients and here's how:
Explain yourself as simply and easily as possible.
Use analogies that they'll be familiar with, talk casually, be sensitive and always consider that they may not have any experience at all when it comes to your field of work.
Make sure that you avoid talking down to a client. For example. do not make them feel as if they know nothing. Instead, make them feel comfortable.
This will help solidify the ideas and decisions that you and the client will agree on, allowing you to go through the project with confidence and certainty. Also keep in mind your options for means of communication. While it is a good idea to discuss with the client face-to-face, sometimes a skype or phone call will have to do when the client is unavailable. Keep it short and to the point.
Clients know their business better than you do.
As information and decisions are passed around back and forth, it is important to remember that your client knows their business better than you do. When a decision is made, take into account their may be unknown reasons that might be hard to understand before tackeling it. While it is never a bad idea to ask, make sure you don't overstep your boundaries.
Clients are always happy to be involved.
As the project moves forward, always keep the client informed of what's happening even if there's nothing currently going on. This will give them assurance and confidence that work is being done in a constant manner. Furthermore, when something is uncertain or needs clarification, always ask. It's never a bad idea to discuss something that might be unclear and slow down the project.
Additionally, ensure that you are actively listening to the client, remembering details, clarifying points and ideas. This will greatly improve the progress of the project as well as cause the client to feel that they are actively involved and you genuinely care.
Be careful of misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
When a conversation is done indirectly such as texts or email, it is a good idea to never assume what the tone of the message is. It is very easy to cause a misunderstanding so, clarify your intentions and determine whether you communicated effectively. It is also a good idea to speak with clients directly. Avoid messengers and other go-betweens as this is a breeding ground for miscommunication.
Communicating effectively should never be overlooked. It is a necessary life skill that everyone needs. We use it in our personal lives as well as our professional. In a business setting, It is intended to speak clearly, accurately and effectively when building client relationships and increase productivity. Without delivering it adequately will only cause confusion and endless issues that no one wants to deal with. With that said, be sure to reach a successful mutual understanding between you and whom ever you're speaking with.