01 Jan Good communication – the vital element of every business relationship
A great business relationship requires honesty, reliability and skills, but there’s another important element, vital for every relationship.
Yes, communication. Without good communication, all the other elements cannot be so effective. It’s the one skill I’d love my collaborators to master.
I believe that communicating in a clear way is of the utmost importance. In my experience, it has always been a key element in my daily life, my corporate jobs, and now that I’m a business owner, finding and working with clients.
Good communication is extremely helpful in every stage of the relationship:
#1 When creating a job posting, for example.
Stating clearly the type of people you wish to work with and what type of skills you need them to have, help make a first selection.
On the other hand, replying to a job posting in a clear, detailed way will help the “recruiter” understand our traits, skills, attention to detail, and so on.
#2 The discovery call.
Very important. Communication helps both sides to understand each other’s personal traits and to set clear expectations regarding the relationship. I explain how I can be of help. The client explains what type of help she requires. Both of us need to understand if the person on the other side of the screen is the right one to work with.
#3 Set-up of systems and procedures.
Defining a process, outlining the various steps and exactly who does what, helps improve productivity. It’s important to create a valid, ongoing communication system: what’s the preferred communication style? Email? Or a project management tool? I prefer using a project management tool so that all the relevant messages are just in one place.
But some clients just don’t feel comfortable with this solution and prefer the usual email.
I sometimes use Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but just for speed or in case of emergency.
When I focus on my clients’ work, I prefer to turn off the notifications, so WhatsApp and FB Messenger cannot be the #1 system. If I left the notifications on, then along with clients’ notifications, I would receive family and friends’ notifications as well… too many distractions! Also, it becomes really tough to search for old messages in FB Messenger or WhatsApp feeds.
#4 Avoiding misunderstandings.
While working, there can be misunderstandings. I don’t mind sending an extra message if I need more detail in order to perform the required task correctly. Sometimes just one more message will avoid a big headache later on. Communication is always key.
Yes, they happen sometimes, we are human. If the mistake has already happened, let’s talk about it, let’s explain. Our first goal is to fix it, talking about it will help us find a solution or an alternative. People make mistakes, we should all take responsibility for our own actions. Sometimes it’s possible to avoid further damage if we try to solve it in the very beginning.
Sometimes, between people who collaborate, there can be things that need to be clarified: about the relationship, about the type of work, the quality of work, the clarity of instructions given, the expectations, the difficulties… Dialogue is the way to go. Anything can be discussed. Understanding one another’s point of view helps clarify the situation.
Also brainstorming together can help to see things differently and find possible solutions.
I like to consider the business relationship between my client and me as a partnership. We’re part of the same team. We both work toward the same goal. If my client grows, I grow too.
In addition to emails and messages, I also love to have a real chat now and then; if not possible to do this in person, then by Skype or at least a telephone call. It’s so important. We’re human, and the human touch is what can differentiate us from the billions of online businesses out there.
What about you?
How important is good communication in your business relationships?