5 communication skills for business that you should master
In my professional experience for the last 20 years, I’ve heard, read and learned about many ways of communication in a business meeting and the communication with different stakeholders, in general: books, audiobooks, training offline and online, videos, all possible shapes and forms.
Each one claimed to be the best, the complete or the correct one for making more sales, negotiating better and closing more deals. All of them have one thing in common: they talked mostly about content – techniques and tactics of how to talk when to talk and what to say or not say. Also, most of them lacked one very important thing: how to be.
The 5 communication skills that I’m going to present here are specifically about how to be in a meeting in-person with a potential client, a business partner, a supplier or an employer.
#1 State the goal clearly
Assumption is the mother of all fuckups, someone said, don’t remember who, yet it’s so true. We often go into trouble just because of the fact that what I believe was the goal for our discussion is different than what you thought it was.
Clearly stating the purpose of our meeting can substantially reduce future friction and roadblocks towards a positive outcome. And it’s so easy to say: Before we begin, let’s agree on the outcome we both want to achieve by the end of our meeting, shall we?
#2 Attentive Presence
They say the first principle of success is to show up. While I agree with this common-sense strategy, there’s another one from the same category – be really present.
More than being physically present, be there with your whole mindfulness and awareness of the situation, of the other party, of the environment surrounding your meeting.
Not only is attentive presence a common-sense manifestation, but also a form of respect for the other party’s time and effort that were offered to you.
Moreover, the chances to have a positive outcome of the meeting are much higher if both parties are really present and focused on the discussion.
#3 Listening to the context
The active listening technique advises asking relevant questions and listening carefully to learn and pick up hints that we can use when it’s our turn to speak again. I find there’s a major flaw here that presents itself as a paradox: if we listen for the words and in the meantime, we’re preparing our next turn to speak again, how can we be really present and focused when we listen?
Instead of listening mostly to the content you’re hearing, listen for the context. Look for the key moments when he’s repeating certain words or phrases, identify when he’s making pauses, check the posture pattern related to verbal patterns.
#4 Being interested in a mutually profitable outcome
Probably one of the most well-known cliches ever: win-win is also so valid because no other option is really sustainable in the long run. You can’t really expect to win and the other to accept to lose. Also, should this be the case, at some point the ‘loser’ will figure it out and with the power of content distribution that every single person has nowadays through social media, many people will learn that your business ethics are not very good.
The whole discussion needs to be developed around a single purpose: finding the appropriate options to move forward and identify a solution that brings benefits to both parties.
#5 Just be authentic
This one trumps everything else, it’s like the joker in the cards game, it’s the ultimate superpower that has the potential to replace and/or repair all the other errors you might have done.
Why? Because when you’re genuinely interested in bringing value and you’re always acting in good faith, you’re allowed to make mistakes. Moreso, making mistakes and acknowledging that you did is one of the most humble and authentic manifestations of your good intentions.
When you’re wrong about something and you know it, just admit it, plain and simple.
Paradoxically enough, making mistakes and admitting you did can also bring more progress than you’re thinking. That’s because when doing this, you can bring forward an issue that the other party may not have been aware of and now you both have the opportunity to solve it. And sometimes, this issue that appeared insignificant at first glance, once resolved could prove to be exactly what you needed to get to the beneficial outcome both parties have been working towards.