Let’s talk about communication

    communication Communication

Today is my birthday, so in this special day, I wish to write on a subject that genuinely cheers me up -together with export of course : the art of communication.

In my opinion, communication is not a gift from Mother nature, which would explain that some people are better than others. Of course, education and literacy play an important part in one’s ability to communicate.

However, I think that communication is a skill which, like a muscle, should be practiced over and over again.

There are many forms of communication (verbal communication, body language, written…) and many types of communication (professional vs personal, intimate vs speech-mode, etc.) but I will not dig into each of them now.

In this post, I wish to focus on the basics of the art of communication… So get ready, take a deep breath, clear your mind and embrace my top 5 communication tips :

NUMBER 1 : Be genuinely curious

Get involved and grow your interest for your contacts’ interests. Keep an open mind and always process information from different angles.

Target => Boost your confidence by developing strong foundations in general knowledge

NUMBER 2 : Find your opening

When preparing a meeting or a phone call, always keep a nice news update to start the discussion. It may be a quick brief on the latest company achievement (building/office improvement, a new market, a recruiting perspective…) or on your global environment (a currency fluctuation which affects your activity, a politic change perspective…) No matter what you pick, keep it simple and most important, keep it positive. By giving out an « off the record » information, you make your interlocutor feel trustworthy.

Target => Create a good atmosphere in between you and your interlocutor

NUMBER 3 : Listen, listen, listen, and synchronize

This is essential, and quite well approached by Neuro-Linguistic Programming. While listening to your interlocutors, you may develop your « feedback » (understanding and processing of how others react to you -your movements, your words, etc.) and adapt your communication accordingly. For a smooth communication, it is advised to synchronize as much as possible with your interlocutors (« copy » the way they behave, what choice of words they use, etc.)

Target => Make your interlocutor at ease in your presence

NUMBER 4 : Keep it professional

The point 3 is important, but it should not keep you from being professional, if your interlocutor isn’t. To keep your communication professional at all time, just remember 2 basics :

  1. By any means, keep the communication away from emotional fields. Avoid using « sentimental » vocabulary such as « I feel » or strong words like « betrayal », « dishonesty »… If your interlocutor uses them, bring him back to you by using a more neutral language.
  2. Keep it simple : in your mind and in your communication, the purpose of the meeting/discussion must stay present and clear. Do not hesitate to rephrase the point of the meeting on several occasions if you feel that it is getting confusing.

Target => Achieving your goal, meeting your professional agenda.

NUMBER 5 : finish the meeting by uplifting the conversation

As also mentioned in my post Keys to a constructive conversation, it is essential to have a common project / target with your interlocutors. While talking about projects, asking your interlocutor’s point of view on future steps, you may help your interlocutor visualizing the bigger picture and feeling confident about whatever comes next.

Target : expanding your network by being a great person with whom one can dream bigger (no less than that!)

Communication really is the foundation of every good and healthy relationship (both personal and professional). I hope you found these tips useful and that they will somehow help in your professional fulfillment through building up a dynamic network.

Please leave your comments on this post by sharing your experience on the subject : what are your own communication tips?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Keys to a constructive discussion

No matter what the subject is, exchanging by phone or even face-to-face can be tricky. At the era of e-mails, whatsapp and other chatting tools, we are not necessarily encouraged to pick-up the phone, even though a good discussion can often save a lot of time and bring the relation to the next level, not matter what this level is.

In addition to visualizing clearly what the objective of the meeting is (this will be the subject of a future post), here are a few principles to lead a good and constructive exchange.

Adaptability is not playing a role

I realized that both concepts are sometimes mixed up when I discussed with one of my team members, who had issues in having good conversations with interlocutors over the phone, no matter if they were clients, prospects, or suppliers. He mentioned that he thought he was playing the role that his interlocutor was expecting him to play, but still could feel his own lack of credibility in his interlocutor’s replies which were often expeditious.

There is a huge difference in between adaptability and playing a role. When working, especially in exports, one must demonstrate a good dose of adaptability in order to fit to the various cultures, company profiles, personalities which will be encountered.

However, like in personal life, it is essential to stay your-self, no matter the circumstances. If you end up having dinner together with a family-businessman and a multinational buyer, both guests must feel in presence of the person they know.

This lead to the second tip :

Credibility lies in Honesty

Nobody is perfect. This is important to understand and fully comprehend : nobody is perfect.

It is not possible to know everything and it is essential to assume the fact that there are questions which cannot be answered straight away, rather than trying to advance uncertain replies in a falsely confident voice.

Credibility will go with honest answers. Honest answers will lead to peace-of-mind. Peace-of-mind will lead to a nice and relaxed conversation.

Uplifting the discussion

A conversation has an objective, a question to be replied to, and information to be given.

However, whenever possible, it is good to uplift the discussion in order to take the relation to the next level.

This can be done by giving an update on the market which could be useful to the interlocutor even if he did not ask for it, by asking more details about the interlocutor’s projects, or even by sharing an idea and asking for his point of view.

The above will help in building a breeding ground to a constructive conversation, in which one of the most important skills for a successful export development will play part : Listening.

Indeed, having a solid export action plan is good, but learning how to adapt by genuinely listening and understanding the market’s feedback is key.

E-mails often stay on very basic communication level, on operational question-answer mode. As a result, this is by handling constructive conversation, by phone or face-to-face, that these key messages will be given.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestEmail this to someone