09 Nov The pleasure of good communication
Yes, communicating is a pleasure. At least for me.
Some people are good with words, others with sounds and others with visuals. But good communication is what inevitably links us to each other and makes us stand out from the crowd.
Along with honesty, reliability and expertise, when done properly, communication is the element that helps everyone else get together and work together in a productive and pleasant way.
So even if it’s not easy for everyone, it is such an important part of any kind of relationship that it deserves a lot of care anyway.
Especially when working remotely, a simple and effective communication is essential for all collaborators.
From searching for potential customers or contractors to establishing the initial contact, from signing the contract to starting with the operational phase, each of these steps requires a lot of attention.
First contact emails and preliminary calls
Being very clear about the type of people you want to get in touch with and what skills you would need to work with them, would help you to shortlist your contacts.
At the same time, applying for a job offer in a clear and detailed way helps others understand something more about you, your skill set, your level of attention to detail, and so on. If we are being superficial, or even worse, distracted, it will be immediately clear to our potential clients or collaborators. Our first contact is crucial in grabbing other people’s interest and attention.
Another important point.
If I initially contact you by sending a quote, I am addressing you as “potential customer”. This indicates quite clearly how I treat customers.
So if you want to get in touch with someone who will also have to deal directly with your customers, pay full attention to the way he/she behaves as it will help you have a first (positive or negative) idea of how this person talks to (potential) customers.
Body language is also important.
For the first call where we get to know each other, I use Skype or similar tools whenever possible, because I like to have a visual contact. In addition to words, body language helps you understand if it is the kind of person we are looking for.
System and procedure setup
When starting a work collaboration, it is crucial to streamline the process, define all the single steps and decide exactly who does what and when.
At this stage, it is necessary to create a valid, effective and comfortable communication system for both: what could be your preferred channel? Email? A project management tool?
The latter is very useful because all the messages are in one place, and not scattered around hundreds of emails. Still, some customers do not feel comfortable with it and prefer classic email. The important thing is to decide how you are going to communicate since the very beginning.
We are all busy people, miscommunication can happen, and it is normal when there’s more than one thinking head involved. I would definitely send an extra message to a client if I needed more information to do the job properly. Of course, I’d think twice and make sure I am not bothering anyone, but if it is really necessary, I have no choice.
I have been working with a lot of people (customers or suppliers) and I have noticed each one has his/her own personal way to communicate: some send concise and clear messages, others prefer long and very detailed ones, and then there are those typing so fast their messages are – literally – encrypted. In that case, I first have to decipher everything and then ask for confirmation.
I always try to adapt myself to the way my clients communicate, but I also prefer to make it clear as soon as possible that, rather than do something wrong, I prefer to double check with him/her. So it is possible they might get some extra messages they were not expecting to receive. It is the only way to avoid future damage. 😉 They have always agreed, so far.
Yes, they can happen anyway: we are human. If the mistake has already been made, the only right thing to do is inform the client immediately. The main goal is to fix it as soon as possible.
Having the chance to discuss it will help find a solution. We all make mistakes, and it’s important to take responsibility. If we try to solve it right away, we can avoid further damage.
The type of business relationship, the type of work, the quality of the work, the completeness of the instructions given, the expectations, the difficulty… all these topics require deep and thorough discussion.
It is the only way to set the job on the right track and address any doubts or difficulties.
Knowing and trying to understand the other person’s point of view helps both parts to clarify the situation.
Also, brainstorming together can help see things differently and find new solutions. It is super useful: two people have the chance to grow at the same time 🙂
As far as my work is concerned, in addition to email and daily updates, I really enjoy doing a chat every now and then. If it is not possible to meet in person (and if you work remotely, like myself, it is likely to happen very often…), the ideal solution is a Skype video call or a phone call.
It does not have to necessarily be a business call. We can talk about anything, from the kids’ school grades, to that day you had to rush the dog to the vet clinic, from shopping to the last concert I went to…
It’s like coffee break at the office. Occasionally it can be done and I find it really pleasant.
All this brings people closer to each other ad creates trust and, in my opinion, greatly helps to strengthen business relationships.
What are your thoughts on this? How important is good communication in your business? Let me know in the comments.