Effective Business Communication and Ethics For Consultancy In The Built Environment

EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION AND ETHICS FOR CONSULTANCY IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, BEING THE TITLE OF THE PAPER PRESENTED

BY

TPL. OLUTOYIN AYINDE  FNITP

 

AT THE ASSOCIATION OF TOWN PLANNING CONSULTANTS OF NIGERIA

2017 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP

HELD ON

WEDNESDAY 22ND – 23RD MARCH, 2017

  

THEME: MAXIMIZING THE POTENTIALS OF PLANNING PRACTICE

 

 
 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

  • INTRODUCTION
    • Opening
    • Background
  • DEFINITION OF TERMS
  • APPROACH TO DELIVERY OF THIS PRESENTATION
    • What is a Profession?
    • Who is a professional?
    • What is professionalism?

 

  • COMMUNICATION
  • Purpose of Communication
  • Components of Communication

 

  • PRESENTATION AS A MODE OF COMMUNICATION
    • Common Mistakes in Communication

 

  • EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

      6.1 Why is Effective Business Communication Important?

  • CONCLUSION
  • REFERENCES


  • INTRODUCTION

 

1.1                   Opening

Does a statement like this make any sense to you: “NO COMMUNICATION, NO BUSINESS; KNOW BUSINESS, KNOW COMMUNICATION”?

 

1.2                   Background

In order to determine how best to maximize the potentials of planning practice, we must first recognize that we have it! That is, we must agree that we have a career in planning practice. The best professions today weren’t created with an exceptional amount of qualified persons or resources. They all started out on the same track, and with the exception of a few bumps on the road, the highway for success was created with the same pavement. Once we’ve decided that we have the potential, we must recognize that maximizing it happens when we take calculated, and sometimes, unpopular risks.
Myles Munroe once said, “The greatest threat to human being is satisfaction with who we are; we have settled for less than our best and the enemy of our best is good, the strength of good is the norm and the power of the norm is the curse of our society”. In essence, history is always made by individuals who dare to challenge and exceed the accepted norm.

Over the last 3 decades in Nigeria, Town Planning profession has emerged from mere health/social studies into the stream of conventional professional practice, but is yet to gain the popularity, dignity and the status expected as experienced in some professions. This seems to be the result of the communication gap between the public/client and the professionals, on one hand, and also amongst the professionals themselves, on the other. Therefore to overcome this situation, this presentation is set to provide tested and practicable principles that will bring effective business communication and ethics for consultancy in the built environment.

 

  • DEFINITION OF TERMS

 

“Business”   : a person’s regular occupation, profession, or trade.

“Communication”: the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium (reading, listening).

“Ethics”   : a set of moral principles, especially the ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.

“Consultancy”: a professional practice that gives expert advice within a particular field.

 

  • APPROACH TO DELIVERY OF THIS PRESENTATION

This presentation will focus more on communication as it obviously looks like the strongest word in the sub theme; every other word is simply an adjective to enhance it, or another word to explain the context within which we ought to make communication happen. Simply put we will be discussing communication as it relates to business, that business being consultancy, which is guided by ethics. So, operating against set moral principles in communicating will result in defective communication which may ultimately tarnish our business or enterprise, and ultimately make us lose the confidence of the one (a client or any other person) we are trying to get across to. Whatsoever our means or method of communication may be, we must have it at the back of our minds that it must be within the context of professionalism. What then is a Profession? Who is a professional? And what is Professionalism? Providing sufficient answers to these questions will provide the context within which our discussion is placed.

                        3.1       What is a Profession?

A profession is a vocation founded upon specialized educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested objective counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain. It is inherent that a code of ethics governs the activities of each profession. Such code requires behavior and practice beyond the personal moral obligation of an individual. They define and demand high standards of behavior in respect to the services provided to the public and in dealing with professional colleagues. Further, these codes are enforced by the profession and are acknowledge by the community (Professions, Australia, 1997).

It may also be said to be a combination of knowledge, skills, trustworthiness and altruism found in those who commit themselves to a life of service to others.

 

3.2       Who is a Professional?

A professional has specialized knowledge which gives him power over his/her clients. Balancing the use of this power for individual and public good, while meeting their own needs, obliges professionals to behave ethically. A true professional not only possesses the practical skills and knowledge of his or her trade but is also disciplined in moral excellence. It is also expected that the professional will hold in trust the best interest of society. There are personal and public expectations of the professional based on the notion that a professional is motivated by something other than raw gain. This is even an expectation of business professionals, whose explicit reason is to make a profit.

 

Professionals express their altruism through serving in networks of responsibility within their profession, often on a volunteer basis. A certain degree of altruism is expected in the true professional, a certain amount of selfless service. The need for altruism and ethics to direct professional skills is so pressing because of the differential in knowledge that exists between the professional practitioner and the client.

 

3.3       What is Professionalism?

Professionalism is not only a skills set in a given occupation; it is an ineffable something that the person exudes in manner, dress, speech, and standards of practice that is palpably powerful: standards like honesty, due diligence, perseverance, willingness to listen and learn, creative thinking within a framework of training, and other qualities most people would be hard put to describe but which they expect in the professionals with whom they engage.  Another word for these standards is “virtues”, and the hard-to-describe something exuded is “trustworthiness”, which is the sum total of these virtues.

 

Professionalism is about the delivery of specialized knowledge in a way that balances the attendant power. That is why trust is the essence of professionalism and its most necessary component around which all the other hallmarks of professionalism revolve. The power that asymmetric knowledge (the superior knowledge) gives one person over another must oblige the practitioner to act in the client’s best interest and must be well communicated, the contrary of which will be termed unprofessional. Professionalism is our business, and this needs to be efficiently communicated in order to achieve the desired result.

 

  • COMMUNICATION

“The inevitable result of communication is misunderstanding. When we are talking, we have misunderstanding. How much more so, then, when we are not talking at all.” Patrick Morley, 1997.

 Communication is a complex two-way process that can involve several iterations before mutual understanding is achieved. Communication takes place in many ways. You can communicate using words, symbols, pictures, graphics, voice, tone, facial expressions, clothing, and body language. Most communication is a combination of these elements. By understanding how to use these elements effectively you can improve the way you communicate and achieve the best outcome for any situation.

Fig. 1.0 The Relationship between Communication and Success

Good communication is essential for the effective operation and development of business. It ranges from decision-making to policy-making, from education and training to human resource management. . You can spend 80% of a working day communicating with others. However, the achievement of strategic goals and plans is virtually impossible if the right people do not receive the right message, in the right way, and at the right time.

 

By employing good communication skills business organisations will work effectively towards creating and keeping clients. Good communication is about transmitting and receiving messages at the personal, interpersonal, team and organisation levels. Before a message is sent or received, it is necessary to have Information, Knowledge and Understanding. Each level has an overlapping and cumulative effect on the other. Your intrapersonal communication, that is your ability to understand and communicate with yourself, has a major impact on your interpersonal one-to-one, face-to-face communication. Your clients are the ultimate arbiters. More than any other factor, they vote for you or against you based on the effectiveness of your communication. However, few people communicate as effectively and efficiently as they should in the business environment.  

 

Successful communication methods provide a mechanism to get exceptional results. The form of communication that takes place in an organisation has a major influence on productivity, morale, energy levels, teamwork, and levels of co-operation on an informal and formal basis. These intellectual capitals are a real asset in your business. The lack of them cause’s time delays, wastage and costs more than any other factor. The professional communicator sets and keeps standards above a certain level and refuses to allow them to slip below minimum standards. Effective communication is a minimum requirement for virtually every other competency.

 

 

 

 

4.1 Purpose of Communication

There would have been no need for communication but for the fact that there is a message that must pass from one person (the origin) to the other (destination/receiver). That message could be a feeling, an instruction, a desire, a goal, a dream/vision which needs more than one person to possess in order to be executed. Until the receiving end properly accepts and understands the message being sent (communicated), there will be no “buy-in” or understanding of what the message is all about. This is the reason why communication must be simple and straightforward. Simplicity implies expressing statements without confusing the receiver. Straightforwardness requires that the message is explicit, as opposed to being implicit. It is not sufficient to just voice out anything, if it is not understood, it serves no purpose. What makes the difference between a noise and a song (music)? What makes the message of the dumb difficult to understand? How would a man speaking in Chinese language sound to a man speaking in Yoruba language, neither understanding the other’s language. The results produced in any of the above answers typify what it means not to receive a message as intended.

A lot of things can happen – frustration, misconception, indignation, irritation, and so on. Purpose of communication will be adjudged as being fulfilled when the destination/receiver receives the message exactly the way the origin intended it. The Yorubas indeed understand that communication lies at the very base of fulfilment of purpose when they came up with the statement, “Ai le soro ni ibere oriburuku”, which literally means that, “the inability to speak (communicate) is the beginning of ill-fortune”. In other words, we are doomed if we are unable to communicate. Our businesses could be jinxed if our communication is poor.

4.2 Components of Communication

Communication is a dialogue not a monologue. So, a communication is said to be effective only if it brings the desired response from the receiver. But it involves several components to be able to achieve this result. And each of these is very important and much attention must be equally given to each one. Below are some basic components of communication:

 

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening

 

4.2.1 Reading

Reading is a complex “cognitive process” of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning (reading comprehension). Reading is a means of language acquisition, communication, and of sharing information and ideas. Like all languages, it is a complex interaction between the text and the reader which is shaped by the reader’s prior knowledge, experiences, attitude, and language community which is culturally and socially situated. The reading process requires continuous practice, development, and refinement, but not forgetting that concentration is the key to all methods of reading and understanding more.

Reading is very important as a communication skill because it develops the creative side of a person. The more you read and understand, the better informed you are. Reading to become a better communicator requires a conscious effort to make links, understand opinions, research and apply what you learn to your studies, i.e. we read to gain factual information for practical use. Therefore reading is an essential part of communication, because the more you read, the vaster you become, and the easier it gets for you to communicate.

4.2.2 Writing

Francis Bacon once said “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man”.

There are three main elements to written communication

  • Structure (the way the content is laid out)
  • Style (the way it is written)
  • Content (what you are writing about).

We must note that structure and style/layout can be relatively quickly learnt but learning how to write good quality content takes much longer.

To become an effective communicator in writing, you must check the following points under the three elements earlier listed above:

  1. Structure (the way the content is laid out)
  • Is the layout clear and easy to follow?
  • Do headings stand out (e.g. are they in a larger font size)?
  • Is the information arranged in a logical sequence with a beginning (introduction), middle, and end (conclusion)?
  • Does the introduction clearly state the subject and purpose?
  • Does it briefly summarise the content?
  1. Style (the way it is written)
    • Does it look neat, and elegant?
    • Is it concise, with an exact use of words and economy of style?
    • Is it simple, direct and lucid
    • Are paragraphs too long?
    • Is a blank line left between paragraphs to aid clarity?
    • Are sentences too long?
    • Is the first sentence interesting/ Does it draw the reader in?
    • Is the style suitable for the intended audience
    • Are bulleted listsused where appropriate?
    • Have you kept wordy phrases to a minimum?
    • Have you avoided repetition?

 

  1. Content (what you are writing about)
  • Have you carefully checked the spelling and punctuation?
  • Have you thought through in advance what you want to say?
  • Have you a clear objective?
  • Have you listed the essential points you wish to make?
  • Have you made these points clearly?
  • Have you developed your argument in a logical way?
  • Have you allowed detail to obscure the main issues?
  • Is the content positive and constructive?
  • Have you shown an interest in the reader by writing with warmth, sensitivity and friendliness?
  • Have you edited it through several revisions, honing the text until it is just right?
  • Have you left it overnight if possible? your mind will assimilate it better and you will come back with a fresh view.

Therefore, written communication involves expressing yourself clearly, using language with precision; constructing a logical argument; note taking, editing and summarising; and writing reports.

 

4.2.3 Speaking

Effective speaking concerns being able to speak in a public context with confidence and clarity, whilst at the same time reflecting on your own personality.

Aspects of Effective Speaking

  • Accents: Regional and ethnic accents are distinguishing; they are part of individual personality. Although you cannot hear your voice in the same way that others hear you, you can develop an awareness of its impact on others. Understanding the physical nature of your voice will give you more control over the way that you use it.
  • Finding your voice: Read your document through silently first, then read it aloud in your normal speaking voice. Don’t worry if you stumble or falter, just pick up and continue to the end.
  • The effect of breath on voice and speech: When under stress an individual’s breathing pattern will change. When your muscles are tense you cannot use your lungs to their full capacity, when a person is frightened or nervous, a common symptom is tension in the neck and shoulders. This occurs because, when under pressure, over-breathing tends to occur.  Plenty of air is inhaled, but with fast breathing there is not enough time to exhale and relax.                      Good breathing is essential for two reasons:
  1. By using full lung capacity the breath will support the voice and the voice will become richer, fuller and stronger.

This will benefit individuals who have a small voice and who worry that they cannot be heard when speaking to a group of people. Volume is controlled in the abdomen not in the throat, so breathing to full strength will allow for greater control of the voice.

  1. Breathing deeply and rhythmically has a calming and therapeutic effect as it releases tension and promotes relaxation. People who are relaxed are more balanced, receptive and confident.

It is no coincidence that many religions use rhythmic breathing techniques such as meditation, yoga and silent contemplation, and vocal release in the form of chants, mantras or hymn singing as aids to their devotions. By easing physical tension, mental stress decreases and the mind is effectively freed to follow creative pursuits.

  • Vocal production: The following three core elements of vocal production need to be understood by anyone who may need to speak at public functions:

Volume – To be heard.

Clarity – To be understood.

Variety – To add interest.

 

4.2.4 Listening (Paying Attention Skills): Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process. Listening is core to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.

One of the communication skills that need to be mastered is listening.

Most people, most of the time, take listening for granted, believing it’s something that just happens.

 

The two main types of listening – the foundation of all listening sub-types are:

Discriminative Listening: This is the most basic form of listening and does not involve the understanding of the meaning of words or phrases but merely the different sounds that are produced. In early childhood, for example, a distinction is made between the sounds of the voices of the parents – the voice of the father sounds different from that of the mother. Also, being able to distinguish the subtleties of sound made by somebody who is happy or sad, angry or stressed, for example, ultimately adds value to what is actually being said and, of course, does aid comprehension. 

 

When discriminative listening skills are combined with visual stimuli, the resulting ability to ‘listen’ to body-language enables us to begin to understand the speaker more fully – for example recognising somebody is sad despite what they are saying or how they are saying it.

 

Comprehensive Listening: This involves understanding the message or messages that are being communicated.  Like discriminative listening, comprehensive listening is fundamental to all listening sub-types. In order to be able to use comprehensive listening, and therefore gain understanding, the listener first needs appropriate vocabulary and language skills. Using overly complicated language or technical jargon, therefore, can be a barrier to comprehensive listening.  Comprehensive listening is further complicated by the fact that two different people listening to the same thing may understand the message in two different ways. 

This problem can be multiplied in a group setting, like a classroom or business meeting where numerous different meanings can be derived from what has been said. Comprehensive listening is complemented by sub-messages from non-verbal communication, such as the tone of voice, gestures and other body language.  These non-verbal signals can greatly aid communication and comprehension but can also confuse and potentially lead to misunderstanding. In many listening situations it is vital to seek clarification and use skills such as reflection aid comprehension.

 

  • PRESENTATION AS MODE OF COMMUNICATION

Presentations are daily rituals of any business. In fact, how well we succeed in our career can be closely tied to how well we present information. Presentation can also be one of the greatest challenges of communication; if not well organised this could lead to permanent misrepresentation of the presenter by the listener/client. Presentation is a structured communication based on the actual audience’s needs in order to achieve a certain purpose within a given timeframe, where the overall goals are providing information and promoting ideas in an interesting way.

Formal presentation is meant to communicate to the audience, from informative to inspirational, while the audience may be known or totally unfamiliar. An organised presentation must have these three critical parts:

  • The Introduction
  • The Body
  • Closure

 

Introduction

Developing an organised presentation starts with your introduction. This opens your speech. A good introduction should:

  • Grasp the audience attention
  • Identify the topic and the purpose / core message of the talk
  • Provide a brief overview / agenda of what you will be covering in the talk

It is very important to have a very good introduction with the aim of charming their attention all through the presentation, because if you don’t grab the audience attention up front, you may not have it for the rest of your speech. Therefore, as you prepare your introduction, carefully plan the opening technique you want to adopt, be it a quote, a bold statement, a noteworthy fact or an interesting example, which acts as the invisible force that can grab your audience attention even till then end of the presentation. After the introduction, the body of the presentation is next.

 

Body

The body is the part of the presentation between your introduction and your conclusion. It’s the longest part of the presentation. Its purpose is to get your key point across. In preparing the body of the presentation; two things should be considered:

  • Determining the key points that are to be passed across to the audience
  • Organizing the sequence of these points

An organised sequence of a flow of thought during a presentation helps give a smooth and a mind-blowing presentation. Endeavour to give highlights with supporting points but avoid overloading your presentation with too many details.

Closure

The conclusion brings closure to the presentation and also seeks a lasting     impact. Because the conclusion is the last part of the talk, it is often the part the audience remembers best and so you will want to leave them with a bang.

In order to have a positive closure to a presentation, the following can be adopted:

  • Recap
  • Repeat Core Message
  • Call to action

 

Finally, refrain from bringing up new points at the end. Prepare one or two suitable questions or statements to transition into the final discussion. Although what you say is important, how you say it carries more weight. The “saying” is the delivery.

 

Delivering a presentation involves nonverbal communication.  It is how you express your messages. The following are non-verbal communication that would be essential in making a presentation:

Making Eye Contact: The eyes serve as a non-verbal mechanism to connect with the audience. Make regular eye contact, as appropriate and avoid reading or relying too heavily on your presentation notes.

Using Gestures: Make use of natural gestures and movements to reinforce your verbal message. This gives life to the talk and emphasizes key points in the message. It helps the presenter look relaxed and animated.

Paying Attention to Posture and Body Position: This shows alertness and confidence, making the presenter come across as relaxed yet with a sense of importance.

Using The Voice: When using your voice in a speech, the objective is to come across with positive energy and sincerity. The voice helps put firmness and confidence behind the speaker, which has the effect of pulling the audience. Project your voice enough to be heard easily without overpowering your audience. Adjust your volume to account for variables such as room size, audience size, & background noise. Avoid a monotonous pitch or tone. Vary your pitch to show enthusiasm for your subject and to promote audience attentiveness.

Pacing Yourself: This is managing the flow of the delivery so that the audience hears the words clearly and leaves comfortable. If the pace doesn’t match what the audience is comfortable with, the speaker may lose the interest of the audience, so make sure you speak at a comfortable, easy-to-follow pace.

 

5.1 Common Mistakes in Communication

Even the best of us make common speaking, spelling and grammar mistakes from time to time, and we often do so without realizing it. Speaking, and also writing, are like a very elaborate and nuanced card game; there are so many different rules and guidelines that you can “play” for years before finding out you’ve been doing something incorrectly all along.

What’s important is that we learn from our errors and, most of all, learn how to correct the mistakes we keep making again and again. Some examples of the common mistakes include:

“emphasy“ instead of “emphasis”

“loose” instead of “lose”

“complimentary” instead of “complementary”

“confuse” instead of “convince”

“been” instead of “being” or the other way round

“One of our colleague“ instead of “One of our colleagues”

“lied on the floor” instead of “lay on the floor”

Knowing the difference among “cite, site, sight”

The appropriate use of the word, “had”

The wrong use of aspirates e.g. “house”, “as”, “is”, etc.

 

 

 

 

Singular   Plural
Basis   Bases
Emphasis   Emphases
Infrastructure   Infrastructure
Furniture

This

  Furniture

These

 

 

  • EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

The inevitable result of communication is misunderstanding because we assume the receiver picks up the same transmission we send. But the receiver always has a separate agenda and his own unique view of the world. Only through dialogue can we be certain we are being understood.” Patrick Morley 1999.

Effective Business communication is a vital factor for the successful interface between client needs and the consultant’s deliverables.

Fig. 2.0. The Client’s needs Vs Consultant’s Deliverables

Effective Business communication is a learnable skill but also an attitude of mind. To become an effective communicator, there are secrets that must be learnt.

  1. Establish rapport with the client.
  • What is Rapport? Rapport occurs when two or more people feel they are in sync or on the same wavelength because they feel similar or relate well to one another.
  • Why is Rapport important? It builds trust, and trust is the foundation of relationships.
  • How do you build Rapport? – Mirroring and Matching – Be familiar with different communication styles and adapt.
  1. Maintain a professional attitude throughout the consulting process.
  • Don’t make excuses.
  • Follow through on promises.
  • Be punctual for your meetings.
  • Answer e-mails and phone calls promptly.
  • A sincere apology is sometimes appropriate.
  • Respect the client’s expertise in their field.
  • Aim to under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Maintain your professional standards and integrity.
  1. Ask about client’s preferred means of communication and desired frequency of communication.
    • Will the client need an initial meeting?
    • Will the client need status updates at various stages of the project?
  2. Ask the client to explain the importance of the project
  • What is the bigger context?
  • How will your results impact the client or their company?
  • How will your performance affect your ability to get repeat business?
  1. Uncover the client’s real needs.
    • Ask as many questions as necessary, but be mindful that the client is a busy professional.
    • Rather than asking open-ended questions, offer some possible answers that the client can choose from.
    • Pay close attention to what the client says but also to what they don’t say.
    • Focus on what you need as a professional from the client to get the job done.
    • Don’t get drawn into the client’s lack of purpose, organization or management.
    • Sincerely advice clients against his/her wishes who insist that you should produce their desired outcome, knowing that it could be a devastating outcome.
  2. Confirm deliverables with the client.
  • Do all deliverables make sense? If not, work with the client to identify proper deliverables.
  • Does the quality of the data support the deliverables?
  • Does the statistical analysis plan support the deliverables?
  • If budget is limited, can the deliverables be prioritized?
  1. Confirm time estimates and deadlines with the client.
  • Break the project down into several manageable tasks.
  • Be accurate in your assessment of how long each task will take to complete.
  • Allow for the possibility that things will take longer than expected (assume that if anything can go wrong, it will).
  • Allow for back-and-forth communication with the client.
  • Factor in all other current demands on your schedule, as well as any future demands.
  1. What should be included in a contract
  • Information needed from a client
  • Consultant’s deliverables
  • Time schedules
  • Confidentiality
  • Invoicing
  1. What to look out for in your contract
  • Penalty provisions
  • Review by an attorney of larger contracts/agreements
  • Written assurances that some provisions do not apply to you
  1. Inform the client on possible alternatives for solving their problem and use your professional expertise to recommend the preferred alternative. The preferred alternative should:
  • Relate to the client’s needs and concerns;
  • Achieve the right balance between simplicity and complexity;
  • Reflect time and budget constraints.

Remember that the client is usually interested in understanding:

  • The core message of the preferred choice;
  • The key concepts involved in this approach.

Consultants can convey the core message and the concepts pertaining to the optimal approach using communication tools such as:

  • Conversation
  • Presentation
  • Charts or Tables
  • Graphs
  • Reports

All of these communication tools need to target the particular level of statistical literacy of the client. They should be simple and to the point and should not contain unusable technical details.

  1. Keep the client in the loop about any anticipated or unanticipated challenges that you encounter while working to solve their problem.
  2. Provide regular updates to your client on the number of hours spent working on the project.
  • Keep track of hours worked on a project
  • Update client on a regular basis on hours spent on their project and what was accomplished (clients want to know what was accomplished, not just how long it took)
  • Avoid waiting until the project is complete to communicate hours spent on project to client (clients generally do not like surprises)
  1. When communication isn’t working, it’s time to reflect, get motivated, and take action. Conflict is inevitable and difficult for everyone. The secret is to find effective ways to address it.
  • Know your current response: Avoid, Give in, Passive-Aggressive, Compromise, Problem Solve Together, Honour the other Person
  • Get motivated to deal with the conflict. It takes effort to change.
  • What does it cost you and/or the client?
  • What’s good about it or could be good about it for you and/or the client?
  1. Once motivated to improve communication, take action and focus on what is doable.
  • Use Truth Talk to discover what’s going on for you. – Find the 1% you disagree with and agree 100% with it.
  • Focus on the real want or need.
  • Consider taking a break or calling it like it is.
  • Consider using a coaching model such as GROW (goal, reality, options, way forward)
  • Communicate in person or by phone if at all possible.
  1. Use reflection after meeting with your clients to understand what worked/didn’t work.
  • What was great about the meeting?
  • What did you do well? (list 3-5 items)
  • What would you do differently? (limit to 1 item)
  1. Present your findings in a clear and impactful way.
  • KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
  • For longer written documents or reports, include tables or figures.
  • The tables and figures should flow with the text and serve to highlight or further explain the concepts.
  • Put any necessary math or complex calculations in the appendix or footnotes.
  1. Be clear about the limitations and implications of the findings you produce for your clients.

 

6.1 WHY IS EFFECTIVE BUSINESS COMMUNICATION IMPORTANT?

  • It is key to business success
  • It generates trust and respect
  • It builds expertise
  • It generates repeat business
  • It helps prevent/resolve conflict

 

  • ETHICS OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

Communication involves choice, reflects values, and has consequences. For better communication, understanding the obvious and the subtle issues relating to communication is necessary. Any company that aims to be socially and ethically responsible must make a priority of ethical communication both inside the company and in its interactions with the public. In theory, many consumers prefer to do business with companies they believe are ethical which gives those ethical businesses an advantage in the market. Some of the vital characteristics of ethical communication are:

  • Conveying the point without offending the audience: While communicating to the audience, conveying the desired message to them in a significant manner is of primary importance.
  • Maintain a relationship with the audience: Maintaining the same wavelength with the audience is very important for a communicator to ensure the audiences feel at home. Experienced communicators immediately build a relationship based on trust with the audience as soon as they start speaking. Great orators such as Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi always were able to maintain a relationship with their audience because they were masters at striking the same wavelength of the audience.
  • Accuracy of information is necessary: Any information that is to be passed on must be true and accurate. Communicating without checking the truth of the information can be highly dangerous for the organization. Identification of the source and testing the information is necessary before communicating it.

 

  • CONCLUSION

As a practitioner you will understand and accept that there are no perfect communicators all the time. Everyone makes mistakes. You must realize however that communicating effectively can be learnt.

You must also understand that effective communication affects all aspects of your job, including marketing, crisis management, advertising, public relations, selling products and services, negotiations, counseling staff members, influencing stake-holder bosses and clients, making presentations, conducting job interviews, and facilitating problem-solving sessions.

The key to being an effective communicator is to act like one, and you will eventually become one. And know this for sure that your communication skills will be challenged every now and then – use challenges as an opportunity to grow and learn new things. When encountering a challenge, remain positive, objective and open-minded so that you can make the best decisions possible for you and your client.

 

  • REFERENCES

 

Alder, H. and Heather, B. (2006), NLP in 21 Days, Piatkus Books Ltd.

Alan Barker (2011). Improve Your Communication Skills, Rev. 2nd Ed. Kogan Page Limited.

Alley, M. (2003). The Craft of Scientific Presentations, Springer-Verlag.

Atkinson, M. (2004), Lend Me Your Ears: All You Need to Know about Making Speeches and Presentations, Vermilion Publishing.

Davies, G. (2010). The Presentation Coach, Capstone Publishing Ltd.

Gates, S. (2012). The Negotiation Book, John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Goleman, D. (1999). Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd.

Gowers, Ernest (1987). The Complete Plain Words, Penguin Reference.

Hasson, G. (2012). Brilliant Communication Skills, Pearson.

Harry E. Chambers (2001). Effective Communication Skills for Scientific and Technical Professionals, Perseus Publishing.

Helio Fred Garcia (2012). Power of Communication: The Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively.

Jeannie Davis and Pat Landaker (2000). Beyond “Hello“: A Practical Guide for Excellent Telephone Communication and Quality Customer Service.

Madelyn Burley-Allen (Wiley, 1995). Listening: The Forgotten Skill A Self-Teaching Guide, 2nd Ed.

Mark Bowden (2011). Winning Body Language: Control the Conversation, Command Attention, and Convey the Right Message without Saying a Word

 

Marty Brounstein (2001). Communicating Effectively For Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Moon, J. (2008). How to Make an Impact, Financial Times, Prentice Hill.

Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R. and Switzler, A. (2002). Crucial Conversations, Mc-Graw Hill.

Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R. and Switzler, A. (2005). Crucial Confrontations, McGraw Hill.

Owen Hargie, et.al (2004). Communication Skills for Effective Management, Palgrave Macmillan.

 



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