Hanging Apples

Work Smart: The Art of Communication

Are we still in this together?

Are you as frustrated hearing about “poor communication” as I am? I can’t think of a coaching client or organization I’ve worked with that didn’t have better communication on its list of areas to focus on.

There is no denying that communication of one type or another permeates every corner of our lives and businesses. We need good communication —just imagine life without it. Whether we are talking, listening, reading, writing or signing, communication can be fraught with underwhelming efforts.

Communication can also be terrific when solid effort is put forth. That’s why we have to keep working at it. But let’s work smarter—let’s “business up”! After all, it’s a two-way street with you and your supplier-partners, and it works best when the parties involved share the responsibility of making meetings work.

Be Accountable—Own the Issue

I’ve employed a simple phrase to help remind me that I need to do my part first and make sure my own communication house is in order: “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” That focuses me on doing everything within my power to do the right things: listen fully, write plainly, respond quickly and speak to be understood.

Read MoreThe Art of Nonverbal Communication

One of the most frustrating things about achieving sparkling clear communication is that even when we do all those things correctly, the other party can still ignore us, not listen, misinterpret our messaging, miss important details, etc. It’s maddening!

Still, I suggest we strive to help the other parties be successful. By helping someone communicate with you better, you get the win, too. I offered to a client that if he responded to my emails sooner — he apparently had a rabbit hole in his inbox — I would be able to get my part completed quicker and we could get our combined project in motion sooner. He saw great advantages in that and switched his modus operandi to a new gear.

Moments of Truth

Your communication moments of truth can make or break the mission. As meeting professionals, there are a million moments of truth involved in your many roles, from initial conception of your events to paying the final invoices. And along those paths, most of those moments tie back to the need for effective communication with others. It’s mission-critical. How do you and your supplier-partners stack up?

Here are a few keys to help avoid the classic communication pratfalls — or at least keep them to a dull roar:

  • Do we give each other our full attention when communicating?
  • Are we active listeners or passive listeners? Both event planners and CVB sales reps have relayed episodes where the other person took multiple phone calls while driving together in a car around a destination on a site visit. What gives?
  • Do you clearly express yourself when speaking and writing? As the sender, your messaging may seem crystal clear to you, but do the receivers see and hear it the same way? Remember: people don’t process and comprehend information at the same levels. Write and speak plainly.
  • Do we often interrupt the other party?
  • Do we avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions when someone is communicating with us? Don’t let your personal notions cloud what the other person is sending to you.

Meeting professionals and supplier-partners need to pitch in together and make the commitment to do better. It’s not rocket science; pick up the phone. Return calls, emails, virtual appointment requests and voice messages. Write better emails, RFPs and contracts.

“It’s not rocket science; pick up the phone.”


The “No Update-Update”

I came up with this term many years ago after hearing countless salespeople and planners in my audiences say that responding back to people had become a lost art. “Crickets” were everywhere — and still are. It’s happened to me and it’s frustrating. So I started imploring my audiences to use the “No Update-Update.”

Simply defined, it’s getting back to someone — even if there is no tangible update on the RFP, contract, negotiation, etc. — to at least acknowledge their attempts to reach you. This thoughtful step lets the other party know that you are alive but you don’t necessarily have an update for them as of yet. Maybe give them your best guess as to when they should loop back or when you will be contacting them. It’s not a hard thing to do, really. It’s courteous and thoughtful. At least they know you are paying attention.

Read MoreYear of the Sustainable RFP

It’s the Golden Rule. And the current state of communication could use a good dose of it.

Work Smart : The Art of Communication

Gary Hernbroth is chief motivating officer with Training for Winners. Look for his new book coming out early next year.

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