Reaching goals in the world of business requires collaboration, and collaboration is not going to happen without effective communication. The better you can get through to people, whether colleagues or customers, the more you'll be able to accomplish. The first steps to getting there involve determining how to frame your message. Active listening and knowing your audience are techniques that will allow you to predict how your message will be received. Persuasion techniques can then be introduced, along with building inclusiveness by encouraging feedback.
Think of the people you need to get through to as your stakeholders. They each have a stake in the message you need to deliver just as you have a stake in how they respond. If you can understand the interests of your stakeholders, you stand a better chance of getting rewarding and positive results. The best way to understand their interests is through active listening. Build a rapport with them by paying attention to what they have to say and showing that you understand the meaning behind their words.
Another aspect of active listening involves observation. During conversations, pay attention to body language and non-verbal communication cues to determine how your message is being perceived. Arms crossed in a defensive posture can indicate you should consider changing tactics with regard to word choice, intonations or other communication factors. Marketing professionals who need to communicate with customers can also observe online social networks to determine the types of messages that are more likely to be received positively.
Knowing Your Audience
Information should be prepared with an understanding of how to best connect with the audience. If a message is to be communicated in written form, it is important to include the right amount of details based on each recipient. Providing too much detail can be as bad as providing too little. No one wants to go digging for the specific information they need. It is also important to recognize the proper method of delivery. In equal opportunity workplaces, technologies should enable alternatives to standard email, such as Braille or audio formats, in addition to alternatives to phone systems. Investing time to research your audience and adapt communication techniques to meet their needs will produce positive outcomes and build goodwill.
Knowing your audience helps in building equity that can be leveraged in applying persuasive techniques. Invest time to develop a strategy that is based on ethics and integrity to foster trust. Try to frame the message and objectives around the common ground discovered through active listening. Other critical factors of effective persuasion include well structured predictions and sound evidence. Establishing empathy with your audience and giving them a sense of inclusiveness will make everyone share in the positive outcome.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.