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Me & You & a Dog Named BooSusan L. Reid
Small Business Communication 101
What a great title for an article on communication, don’t you think? LoBo recorded this song in the 70s about hanging out and traveling around the country in a car, just going wherever and however the spirit moved.
That pretty much sums up the free-flowing way most of us communicate. We stay with topics for as long as they interest us, and we move on when they don’t. That may be OK for everyday communication. When it comes to business communication, though, it’s a good idea to bring a map along with ole Boo so you don’t get lost.
Communicating effectively can be one of your greatest assets when you’re running a small business. Ineffective communication, conversely, can be your greatest liability. If you and ole Boo were stuck together on a long car trip and had to make it work, wouldn’t you jump at the chance to communicate more effectively with him? Once you understood just what he was saying and how he was saying it, talking with one another would become free and easy, with no need to guess or interpret what was being said.
The first step to becoming a more effective communicator is to learn about the three main styles of communication.
3 Main Styles Of Communication
There are three main “voices” or styles of communication: one-under, one-up, and equal. For business communication in the United States, the optimal voice to use is equal. In other parts of the world, one-under or one-up may be more appropriate.
The next step to becoming a more effective communicator is to learn to practice “the dialogue.” Good communication consists of three distinct parts: what the speaker says, what the listener hears, and the gray area in-between. Sometimes, what is perfectly clear to the speaker is heard another way by the listener. That is why it is so important to practice reflecting or repeating back to the speaker what was said. Here’s how the dialogue works:
Of course, it isn’t necessary to have this kind of dialogue after every sentence or with every person. It is good to keep this dialogue in mind, though, when you are confused about or need to confirm what is being said, find yourself not being heard, or know that something is “off”, even if you’re not sure what. In these cases, start the dialogue to check things out, gain clarity, and get back on track.
7 Tips For The Talk
Finally, in addition to the dialogue, there are seven other things to consider when it’s me and you and a dog named Boo in a conversation together. Practicing even one of these seven tips will make a difference in your business communication effectiveness. Consistently applying three or four of them will so improve your communication with your partners, clients, and customers that you will see and feel the difference immediately. Practicing all seven of these “tips for the talk” will make you a delight to be around. People will feel as if they have your undivided attention and that you really listen to them. That will make all the difference in the world to the success of your small business.
Practicing being an effective speaker and attentive listener will go a long way toward keeping the avenues of communication open and relationships productive. Taking time to communicate effectively and in an equal voice will help ensure a smooth exchange of information with partners, clients, and customers—not to mention ole Boo.
Just in case you want to listen to the groovy tune Me and You and the Dog Named Boo,here’s the link. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFbbNR9TV_k
© 2006 Susan L. Reid
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Susan L. Reid, DMA
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