When people consider success in business, they often imagine people who are financial whizzes or great at making predictions about what is going to be in demand next. However, there is one skill that all leaders and businesses successes need to have, and that is the ability to communicate effectively. The importance of communication as a skill cannot be underestimated.
If you think that business is all about numbers, products, and data, think again. If you think it’s about making deals, you’re getting closer. What do you need in order to make deals but relationships? These relationships form the foundation of all your businesses successes, and you build those relationships through networking. Networking requires sophisticated communication skills. You need to be able to connect with people you’ve just met as well as those you’ve known for a while, and you need to do so in a way that feels genuine without being presumptive.
These relationships can turn into mentorships as well and you might be able to gain knowledge about much more than you originally set out to. Others in your field may be able to help you define your brand, manage workplace stress, and/or revamp your social media presence, plus much more. Do not discount the power of network connections in all facets of the business process.
An important communication skill is being able to explain things within your niche to the layperson. This will come in handy throughout your life whether you are trying to clarify things for customers, push through a political reform that is important in your industry or talk to your staff. It is also important when you are working your way up through management positions. There will be times when you need to convey something important to higher-ups about an issue that is not their department.
This could be the case for a fleet manager who needs to convince the company to purchase GPS fleet tracking software and solutions. To explain the importance of using real-time data to track your fleet, you will need to be able to summarize your main points quickly and concisely and make the case that this fleet management software will save the company money and help you work more efficiently. If you get bogged down in unimportant details or are not able to accurately communicate the value of this software to the company, you may be unsuccessful in persuading them to purchase it.
The Role of Listening
It is important to understand communication as a two-way street. This means that you must develop your listening skills as well. Listening is not a passive activity as much as that might appear to be the case, and that doesn’t mean you should spend your listening time thinking about what you are going to say in response. Most people are not actually great communicators, and you need to make up for that as a listener.
That means figuring out what their point is even when it is not clear. It does not mean attributing ideas or emotions to them that they are not expressing. There is a fine line here between being intuitive about what someone is telling you and putting words in their mouth. If you are struggling to understand them, another important skill to develop is asking the right questions. In part, this means framing your questions neutrally. Instead of saying “What did you mean by saying that?” you might say “I didn’t quite understand your point when you said this department has weaknesses. Can you elaborate?”