Communication strategies to enhance your communication capability

Communicating with clarity and confidence is a critical capability in business. Poor communication costs customers. It confuses employees. It can damage trust and cause employees to become disillusioned. On construction sites and other workplaces, it can put lives in danger. 

Poor communication will cost your business financially. Perhaps even cause it to collapse. Which is why I’ve written this article. I want you to avoid the mistake of communicating ineffectively.

How much does poor communication in business cost?

In a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each, it was found that poor communication to and between employees costs each company an average of more than $60 million per year. But you’re not a huge company, you say.

Would it surprise you to learn that a 2010 study found that smaller companies of 100 employees suffered miscommunication costs of $420,000 per year?

Put another way, if you’re communicating poorly with your employees, your poor communication could be costing around $4,200 per employee.

(You can read more about these studies in the SHRM article ‘The cost of poor communication’.)

How do you know you’re communicating poorly?

Many business leaders fail to realize that they aren’t communicating effectively until it is too late. But there are many giveaway signs that communication is poor, either from you or within your business. These include:

  • Finished products that don’t match expectations

  • A lack of trust between employees and teams

  • Poor time management, with tasks taking longer than they should

  • Duplication of work

  • Everybody agrees

The last of these may sound strange. Surely, if everyone agrees with what you say, then you must have communicated your message clearly, right?

In fact, this is one of the most damaging symptoms of poor communication. People aren’t in agreement with what has been said, they are scared to question it. Perhaps for fear of being made to look stupid, losing respect, or rocking the boat – or simply because they have lost interest.

How do you communicate with clarity and confidence?

You want your business to thrive, and you understand that for it to do so you’ve got to be on top of your communication game. Here are my tips for communicating with clarity and confidence.

  • Be prepared

Know what you want to say before you open your mouth. If you’re making a presentation or explaining a new procedure, be clear about what you are going to say. 

Have a point to make – your communication goal. Every piece of communication (spoken, email, etc.) should lead to and support this.

  • Keep your language simple and appropriate

Not everyone you communicate with will have the same level of understanding as you. Therefore, it is imperative that you use appropriate language. Eliminate complex and confusing technical jargon. It’s not a partition between two different-use spaces. It’s a wall.

If how you communicate is confusing your audience, one of two things will happen:

  • You will need to rephrase what you are communicating because your audience asks you to, wasting valuable time

  • Your audience will not ask questions and remain confused

In either situation, your lack of clarity will have caused confusion and demotivation.

  • Listen actively and adapt

Listen to what your audience asks and to how they respond. If you are expecting people to laugh and they don’t, ask yourself why they didn’t. What was the mistake that you made?

You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. When you are asked to clarify a point made, it is not a failure of the recipient to understand – but a failure of you to communicate clearly.

Use questions asked by your audience to help you refine how you communicate – the language you use and the style in which you deliver.

  • If you’re speaking, then breathe!

Strong. Dynamic. Confident. Three qualities that the best speakers possess. Apart from preparation, appropriate language, and listening to adapt your communication, the best speakers know how to breathe.

What do I mean by this? Breathing deeply will help your voice maintain its strength. It also forces you to slow down and deliver at a pace that allows your audience to interpret meaning.

  • Be a storyteller

People respond to what they can relate to. Get good at telling stories that provide examples of what you wish to communicate. Real-life stories. Stories that help to keep an audience entertained, informed, and educated.

  • Confirm understanding

Ask your audience to confirm their understanding of what you have said, in their own words. This will test the clarity of your communication and provide the opportunity for you to eliminate confusion or misunderstanding. It should also aid you to learn to introduce greater clarity in your communication.

Communicating with clarity and confidence – the key to influencing others

If you have been left frustrated by outcomes that don’t meet your expectations, or by misunderstanding of what you believe to have been clear instructions, it is time to look at your ability to communicate clearly and with confidence.

The risk to your business from ineffective communication is too great to ignore. Poor communication can cause discontent among your employees, lose customers, and negatively affect your sales, profits, and reputation.

Have you ever wondered why your employees don’t understand simple instructions?

Have you been asked to speak in public, but are dreading doing so?

Let me know your biggest communication anxiety, or the worst outcome of miscommunication that your business has suffered. 

I look forward to your comments, and I’ll try to answer them all – either directly or in future articles.

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