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5 Basic Communication Rules

August 25, 2009 3 comments

I dropped my oldest child, now a freshman, off at school to attend his first high school dance tonight. I’d already cautioned him about appropriate behaviour, being where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there, etc., etc., when I realized I was delivering the same admonitions my own parents slung at me before my first “real” dance way back when. I took a deep breath, looked him squarely in the eyes, and told him I knew that he knew what I expected from him, and I knew he’d come through. And to have a good time.

Now, I’m not a new-age parent, or parent-as-friend practitioner, either. We walk on the stricter side of life when it comes to expectations and consequences. I know that my son understands what my expectations are because I’ve clearly communicated them to him over the course of many, many interactions. I also know he understands the consequences if he violates my trust in him because he’s experienced those many times as well.

Clear communication is the foundation for successful interactions, be they in business, among friends and co-workers, or between parents and children. Do you…

  1. Clearly communicate what you want to have happen in a given situation? Be home by 9:30. Call us to set up a free appointment to evaluate your current materials. Order online.
  2. Clearly explain any options or choices? Think of menus in restaurants, options on cars, travel packages… so many things could be improved through clear communication of any choices the buyer may have. My kid can either have me drop him off and pick him up, or one of the parents I know and trust among a select group of his friends. Those are the options.
  3. Set expectations for timeframes and urgency? If the deal expires at MIDNIGHT, let me know! If your grass seed only performs optimally when planted in March, tell me. If coming home 2 minutes past 9:30 is still considered late, better let the kid know.
  4. Revisit the important points as needed? Did your kids eat their vegetables after only telling them to do so one time? Mine didn’t either. Sometimes you need to repeat yourself in your copy, in your verbal presentation or in your parenting.
  5. Deliver the promised results? If he’s late, he’s grounded. When we say it will ship today, it will ship today. It really is a free, no strings attached evaluation of your current marketing material.

If you clearly set expectations with your customers (or your kids), including noting the choices or options available, sharing any relevant urgency, reminding them of the important parts and delivering what you promised, your interactions will be much more fruitful.

Have any additional basic communication rules? Please share them in the comments.

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It’s Complacency That Breeds Contempt – For Your Audience

from photogirl7 on Flikr

from photogirl7 on Flikr

I’m preparing to speak to the Social Media Mastermind (Tulsa… @smmtulsa on Twitter) group tomorrow. It’s not going to be a large crowd nor a long speech or involved presentation. It’s material I’m comfortable with (see earlier post on Making Social Media Matter For Business). And yet I’m still a little nervous about tomorrow.
Why the butterflies? I speak often to groups and long ago worked past my formerly-paralyzing fear of public speaking… it’s not that. I am not out of my depth (I don’t think, anyway) or presenting on short notice… it’s not those things, either. After some reflection, I think the wee bits of panic have surfaced because I really admire the people I’ll be speaking to. I learn much from them every time we meet and I hope the content I share will be as valuable to them.
A few butterflies before a presentation is a good thing… it’s been said that familiarity breeds contempt but I think it’s complacency that breeds contempt for your audience. If you approach every speaking, writing, sharing opportunity with a healthy respect for your audience (perhaps they DO know as much as you do about some things!) you will prepare more thoroughly, speak or write more thoughtfully and succeed in what really matters… sharing quality content and creating connections. Real respect for your audience means you’ll be motivated to give them your best. And what better way to build your business or brand than by showcasing your best in front of an interested audience?
Though I think the butterflies are healthy… what do YOU do to quell them?

Project Convergence

It’s Sunday, but my weekend is suffering from a case of project convergence. It’s what happens when all your project planning goes awry (sometimes through no fault of your own) and multiple project deadlines converge. I work well under pressure; in fact, some of my very best work & ideas happen under the threat of imminent deadline. However, I can still only get through X amount of work in Y time. When a serious case of convergence happens, it can be paralyzing… Where to start? I can’t get it all done in time!! The planning for failure starts: who to e-mail or voicemail asking for an extension? Are there any shortcuts out there? And so begins the “research” into working & planning to work instead of actually working. Rather than spend time planning how to come up short & disappoint, I’ve learned that
my only way forward is to quickly prioritze based on what I think I can accomplish and start tackling that list.
Usually, I complete far more work than my panicked, convergence-resisting self thought possible.
Don’t paralyze yourself with a complete project list of all the things you can’t accomplish (in the time you have, anyway). Just start… Creativity has a momentum all its own and you’ll likely amaze yourself.

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