There is an old saying that our brain, a marvellous piece of equipment, starts working from the moment of birth and only stops working when we get up to speak in public. For some reason our ability to charm and impress leaves us as soon as we stand up. Usually it may not matter if we blush and burble; we may create sympathy in our listeners. After all, who has not been in the same situation themselves?
Alas, if we are expected to stand up and try to sell a product, or convince a client or any of the other reasons we have to make a public presentation, this kind of reaction will get a completely different response from our listeners. So what on earth can we do to ensure that the next time we have to give a presentation in public we actually achieve the aim rather than dissolve into a brain dead alien?
Well, let us first try to understand exactly why much of our business communication goes wrong. It is simply because we believe that we can use the same techniques that we use when we are talking to our families and friends. But Conversation is not Communication, and that is where we fail.
Conversation is highly flexible; it can pass from one subject to another without a reason. We may start out talking about a topic, but something in the ongoing conversation reminds us of something else, and we go off the highway to explore the bye ways. It’s exciting, it’s entertaining, and it’s confusing.
In conversation we can make assumptions, use personal triggers, use it to sound out new people, find out about them and their ideas. We can use conversation to increase our personal friendship circles. We pick and choose what we discuss and we can choose to avoid areas that we find uncomfortable, and which may show us in a less than favourable light.
When we are in conversational mode, we can also monitor what we say to people. We can avoid contentious subjects or, if we are not quite comfortable with them, we can deliberately withhold personal information. We can hide our real feelings and opinions if we feel that these may offend those we are talking to. We make many decisions about what we say, what we withhold and what we deliberately misrepresent. It works well, and it really helps to build relationships, and maintain comfortable group cohesion.
So why can’t we use the same techniques in business? Because the aim of business communication is entirely different to personal relationship building. In business communication we have three aims:
· To Inform
· To Instruct, and
· To persuade or convince.
While these three aims may also be relevant in personal conversation, the reasons behind the aims will be dramatically different.
In business we need to Inform our customers or clients about our products and services, therefore we must be accurate and credible.In business we need to Instruct our staff or our superiors about what is going on, what needs to be done and how things work. So we need to be accurate again, certainly credible but also logical and reasonable. Finally, in business we need to persuade and convince clients and customers that they need to buy into our message, to purchase our products, to engage our services or even to employ or promote us. So we need to be accurate, credible, logical, reasonable, but also believable, convincing and connecting.
Sure, we can communicate in business in ways that may seem different to these, but I bet if you analyse what you are trying to achieve it will fit neatly into one of the above aims.
When we analyse exactly what we are trying to get our business communication to achieve for us, we can see that the conversational techniques will not do it. In fact, if we try to use our conversational style we can create terrible misunderstandings. Leaving the highway of the facts and figures needed by a client, to discover what the bye ways can offer will not convince them of your professionalism. To change the subject and wander off topic with a customer may only confuse and confound! Withholding or misrepresenting information will make you appear unethical or down right criminal!
So if you choose to use your well honed conversational style, it is unlikely that you will achieve the aim of the communication which was to inform, instruct and convince.
Trischel can teach you the differnce between conversation and communication, and have you on track to ensure that your business communication is effective. Check out the website and book in for your opportunity to learn the art of communication.
MIchele @ Trischel