Communication is key – how to maintain healthy relationships in business
In this month’s news story, communications adviser Roseann Gedye shares key takeaways on communication practice for strong leadership and maintaining healthy business relationships.
Roseann Gedye is a respected communications adviser to a large variety of organisations and has been involved in delivering educational programmes for over forty-five years. Roseann also facilitates Executive Education’s short courses Influencing and Persuading Skills and Effective Communication Skills.
“Sustainable organisations today recognise that they are in the relationship business and that effective communication is the glue that holds relationships together.”
Effective communication is essential for strong leadership and business success. Leadership is enacted through your ability to communicate and connect, and great leaders realise they need to be communicating and connecting with their people regularly. Sustainable organisations today recognise that they are in the relationship business and that effective communication is the glue that holds relationships together. So, having a good grounding in communication skills is key to helping their employees to work more effectively with both internal and external customers.
So how do you start communicating more effectively in your organisation and your own leadership practice?
STEP 1. LISTEN LIKE A LEADER
Often people believe communicating is all about talking when, in fact, more emphasis needs to be given to listening skills. The three listening skills that really assist people in connecting are:
- Attentive Listening – being truly present by giving your full attention to the speaker (this is challenging for those who are easily distracted!)
- Active Listening – summarising and checking to prove to the speaker that you have understood their message (a technique that is often missed in the fast-paced environments in organisations today!)
- Objective Listening – checking our own judgement process and viewing the speaker, as well as their content, with an open mind (the most difficult skill as we are all creatures of judgement!)
When a leader really listens to their people using these three skills, then organisational members feel truly valued and want to perform to their best.
STEP 2. BECOME A “TRUSTED ADVISER”
At present, I’m working with several businesses in the information technology, engineering and insurance industries where the emphasis in on providing great service to their clients. This is best done by forming strong relationships where they become “trusted advisers” and has been particularly important during the COVID-19 lockdowns where maintaining repeat business has been crucial.
One of these technology-based companies uses a simple formula for developing the “trusted adviser” concept: IQ + EQ +XQ = trusted adviser.
I.Q. – Intellectual quotient
Know your subject matter to provide solutions that enhance your client’s effectiveness.
E.Q. – Emotional Quotient
Relate, and empathise with, your client’s situation, especially their pain-points.
X.Q.- Execution Quotient
Deliver projects on time to add value to the client. This is the foundation for building trust in relationships.
STEP 3. HAVE A “COURAGEOUS CONVERSATION”
In my work, I advocate that communication is the glue that holds relationships together both professionally and personally. When there is tension in a relationship, the most common cause is a communication breakdown. When tension has occurred in a relationship, either internal or external to your organisation, a ‘courageous conversation’ is needed to heal that damage and restore communication. These conversations rely on the concept of ‘honouring and respecting’ the other party first.
These conversations rely on the concept of ‘honouring and respecting’ the other party first. The three-step method for a courageous conversation involves:
- Acknowledging the other party first
- Stating your situation with reasoning
- Offering, or asking for, a way forward
By embracing these strategies for listening, developing trust and communicating courageously, organisations, and the leaders within them, can establish and maintain healthy lines of communication as a foundation for strong business relationships.