Five Communication Skills
Skill #1: Speaking
No longer is effective speaking a "plus" in the business world - it is now expected. And the higher one goes in a company, the more crucial this skill becomes. Today, public speaking is the norm for senior executives.
However, even if you are not a senior executive explaining a crisis to a group of line managers or investors, you often will find yourself speaking before peers in your day-to-day responsibilities. And as a small business owner, you may speak for a living; that is, you may talk to customers and clients daily to sell your products or services. Your speaking success relates directly to your bottom-line.
We all know that it is not necessarily the brightest or most capable who get ahead. Often it is those who make a strong impact on people who end up in positions to buy from them. People who speak well generally are considered more intelligent, forceful, and respectable than their quieter counterparts.
Outside the business world, you will continue to find chances to put your speaking skills to use - at club fund-raisers, on political issues, at farewell gatherings for departing colleagues and friends, and on behalf of nonprofit organizations and causes.
Speaking well is no longer just a nice-to-have skill - it is a must for the successful individual and particularly for the successful business owner.
Skill #2: Listening
Listening means the difference between making or losing a sale, gaining or losing a client, motivating or discouraging a team, mending or destroying an employee relationship. Not a passive state of mind, listening is the precursor to all successful business activity as an owner and manager. As Plutarch observed: "Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly."
Skill #3: Writing
Everything official sooner or later gets written down. Unfortunately, to the small business owner most of the difficult writing - or at least reviewing of others' drafts - ends up on your desk: Large customer proposals. Important supplier agreements. Strategic partnerships. Policy statements. Press releases to the public. Letters to investors. What you say is what you get. It has to be clear, concise, correct.
Skill #4: Leading a Meeting
Meetings can bring the world to peace - or kill 15 hours a week for even the best time manager. Business owners meet with clients to sign the big contract, meet with suppliers to negotiate better terms, brainstorm with the own teams to set strategy for the quarter or year, and lead staff meetings to tackle day-to-day issues. How well they lead determines who follows and what they achieve - time wasted or valuable outcomes.
Skill #5: Resolving Conflict
Business owners, unfortunately, have plenty of conflict. If not with clients, then among internal teams. If not with internal teams, then with the governmental agencies and regulators. If not with agencies and regulators, then with warring divisions and stakeholders about expectations and means to the desired outcomes. As business owner, you serve as referee, replete with all the boo's, minus the benefits.
Finding your toolkit short of any of these skills can hinder your overall effectiveness to achieve results and reach your business goals. To improve results on all fronts, sharpen these skills in your own tool chest and then begin to improve this same skill set in your key employees.
Dianna Booher is CEO of Booher Consultants, a communication training firm offering workshops in oral presentations and technical writing, and an author of 40 books. Tips excerpted from Speak with Confidence: Powerful Presentations That Inform, Inspire, and Persuade (McGraw-Hill, 2003). Contact Booher Consultants by telephone 817-868-1200, by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.booher.com .
Many more articles in Communications in The CEO Refresher Archives