Your communication skills have the power to make or break your business. Inability to communicate effectively may decrease your credibility in the eyes of your business partners or customers and, ultimately, may lead to a decrease in profit. For example, everyone remembers watching BP’s previous CEO, Tony Hayward, as he fumbled through numerous speeches regarding the Gulf oil spill. Stocks often fluctuate as CEO or company’s comments frighten the investors. While there are many mistakes to be made in the art of communication, this article aims to outline the top 5 most commonly made mistakes so that you can make a conscious effort to avoid them.
You fail to ask for clarification
Have you ever been put in a position in which you feel uncomfortable asking for clarification, such as a conversation with an important business partner or executive? It was probably similar to the feeling that one gets when having to ask someone to repeat his or her comment for the third time so that you understand. However, asking for clarification, especially on important tasks that your partner or boss would like you to accomplish, is of massive importance. It is better to understand the task at hand than to present a less-than-satisfactory result simply because the task was left unclear.
You use an excessive amount of “qualifiers”
“Qualifier” phrases such as “I think,” “we might” or “I hope to.” Inserting them into your conversations here and there will likely go unnoticed. But, if you are using these or similar phrases in every other sentence, you may come off as lacking confidence. Instead, speak like a leader and state what your company will and will not do.
You are overly agreeable
If you’re telling everyone that their every idea is wonderful and that every plan is magnificent, you’re doing something wrong. Be sure that you’re being selective in all of your business decisions.
You are not prepared
If you are presenting via teleconference or having an important business discussion, it will be immediately obvious to all of the listeners if you come unprepared. Preparation is of utmost importance to avoid stumbling over your sentences or being unable to answer direct questions regarding the topic of interest.
You speak too quickly
One of the first things everyone learns in a speech class is how to avoid speaking too quickly, especially during a presentation or times of extreme nervousness. The same principle applies to your business communications. If you speak too quickly, not only will everyone recognize that you are experiencing anxiety, but they may also miss the point of your discussion. Especially when conducting meetings over the phone, this may lead to participants asking you to repeat yourself frequently, which may cause you to become increasingly anxious.
While this list of communication mistakes is certainly not comprehensive, these general rules-of-thumb are of great importance in the small business community. You can’t place too much value on the art of effective communication skills.