Communication is a skill which needs to be practised because an inherent truth is that most people who believe that they are consummate communicators are actually anything but that.
And that is because the key person in the communication transaction is the person(s) receiving the information not those who are delivering it.
Another universal truth is that people also can use communication to gain an advantage over someone else. Be it through withholding information or putting a spin on facts or details to portray a situation in a manner which is other than reality.
Sometimes this is done with the best of intentions, to protect someone from a situation by consciously presenting information in a certain way so as to limit the impact of bad news.
Although my take on this is that it is better to be straight up, particularly when it comes to business matters. This approach has been appreciated by many and not appreciated by some but, again, that is down to the receiver of the information.
When communicating with customers, clients or just in ordinary representation of your business it pays to 'tell it like it is'. Don't over-represent a product or commodity because if it fails in any way the contrary message will soon be all over town.
Likewise, you need to beware of what I like to term 'bovine scattology' and, from time to time, people will serve it up to you and expect you to swallow it.
There are tools you can use to decipher if it is coming your way, the best of these being learning to read body language. Also, your gut will tell you if there is something awry in explanations you are receiving.
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Eventually you learn that the product you purchased doesn't make you look like a movie star, the computer programme you installed needs constant upgrades, an opinion/assurance given is not representative or someone will do something the opposite of what they said they would do.
And the beauty of being in a small town, as someone I greatly respect told me last week, is that the truth of any situation (or at least a filtered interpretation of it) will soon come to hand – eventually the bull stops producing and facts emerge. For those that remember the 'X' Files, you will remember that "the truth is out there" – and it is.
In all things, communicate well but deliver all the facts. If what you are selling won't deliver what the customer wants there is more likelihood of trust and repeat business if you inform them of that and send them to a competitor who can help them. If someone else can perform a service better, tell the client and refer them on.
But above all, do not remain silent. Because choosing not to communicate is actually sending a message and if communication was expected you will lose a good business relationship and be left to clean up a big mess.
•Zenith Solutions is Whanganui's only specialist strategic consulting and risk management practice. For help with your organisation's strategic direction, communication planning and for advice, contact Russell on 021 244 2421.