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The One Business Skill You Must Master

My wife and I had our first baby just seven months ago. It’s completely changed our lives. It’s wonderful, incredible, and joyous… and at times stressful, tiring and frustrating.

And “little Nate” cries quite a bit and quite loudly too.

His crying lets us know that he’s unhappy, uncomfortable, afraid, or that he wants something.

But we really don’t know which of these, let alone what specifically would comfort him, make him happy and allow him to go to sleep. And trust me, I’ve tried explicitly asking him many times! But he just doesn’t answer. I don’t know what he wants, and he probably doesn’t get why I’m not better at helping him with whatever it is that he’s trying to convey.

You see, we don’t speak the same language.

That creates a communication breakdown, and both of our needs go unmet and our wants go unrealized.

This often affects us small business owners, as well.

As you know, there are certain expectations all of us want from our business:

- get more clients

- charge higher fees

- grow our reputation

- service our clients better

- better train, manage and leverage our staff

- create stronger partner relationships

- and build an incredible business

…just to name a few.

To achieve these expectations, there is an important skill you need to master:

Effective Communication

”Communication creates shared reality.”

This is a definition I learned in college that has always guided me well.

Think about it for a moment…

If I don’t communicate in some way with you what I’m thinking, I’m in my own reality. And if you don’t communicate what you’re thinking to me, your experiences and thoughts are truly your own as well.

We might be occupying nearby space, but without communication we are in completely different worlds.

There is no basis for sharing common thought; thus, no basis for common existence.

So how does this fit with business? If you want to conduct or gain business, you need to create a shared reality.

How can you market to someone and get your message through to them if you don’t speak the same language? And I don’t mean literally needing to speak a language other than your own native tongue. I mean speaking in a way that demonstrates you understand the phrases and words your clients, prospective clients, employees, marketing partners and others use, and just as importantly, so they understand you.

For example, last week I worked with a web designer client to develop a signature talk that could be delivered to different groups in his target market. To make his presentation effective and resonate, it was important that we identified his prospects’ pain points, problems and challenges. But we needed to use their words, not his, so he would could connect with them, teach them and help them learn how to promote their ideas.

For the social networking promotion piece written for a realtor client’s newsletter, and using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to promote her networking event, it was important that the subtleties of one word or phrase were chosen specifically over another. They needed to work in her favor to create the shared reality with the reader that will serve them the best, draw out their commons goals, drive their desire to attend the event and help frame it so they get the most out of it.

For my chiropractor client who was working on interviewing candidates for an office manager position, we needed to evaluate his communication style, words and body language, and those of the candidates as well. It was not only to ensure that their answers contained the skills and experiences he sought, but also to find out if the way they conducted themselves matched the verbal answers they gave for interview questions.

As I noted earlier, communication is key to creating understanding through a shared reality. Always consider its impact. And practice. Work with a professional to really hone and refine your skills for maximum effectiveness.

Like little baby Nate who is getting better at telling us what he’s thinking with certain grunts and facial expressions. We’re still practicing and learning each other’s languages. And with this practice, we know it won’t be long until we really understand each other.

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