Communication is a skill which needs to be practised, because an inherent truth is that most people who believe that they are consummate communicators are actually anything but that. And that is because the key person in the communication transaction is the person(s) receiving the information not those who are delivering it.
Another universal truth is that people also can use communication to gain an advantage over someone else. Be it through with-holding information or putting a spin on facts or details to portray a situation in a manner which is other than reality. We've probably all done it, with the best of intentions, to protect someone from a situation by consciously presenting information in a certain way so as to limit the impact of the news - doctors are pretty good at this.
Although my take on this is that it is better to be frank and direct, particularly when it comes to business matters. This approach has been appreciated by many and not appreciated by some but, again, that is down to the receiver of the information.
When communicating with customers, clients or just in ordinary representation of your business it pays to 'tell it like it is'. Don't over represent a product or commodity because if it fails in any way the contrary message will soon be all over town. Just ask me about a certain brand of stain proof paint sold to us as the best and most advanced of its type, and I will tell you unequivocally that it is not.
Likewise, you need to beware of what I like to term 'bovine feculence' and, from time to time, people will serve it up to you and expect you to swallow it. There are tools you can use to decipher if it is coming your way, the best of these being learning to read body language. Also, your gut will tell you if there is something awry in explanations you are receiving.
The beauty of being in a small town, as someone I respect greatly told me this week, the truth of any situation (or at least a filtered interpretation of it) will soon come to hand - eventually the bull stops producing and facts emerge.
Eventually you learn that the purchased product doesn't make you look like a movie star, the computer programme you installed needs upgrades, an opinion / assurance given is not representative or someone will do something the opposite of what they said they would do.
In all things, communicate and deliver all the facts. If the product wont deliver what the customer wants there is more likelihood of trust and repeat business if you tell them that and send them to a competitor who can help them. If someone else can perform a service better, tell the client and refer them on.
But above all, do not remain silent. Because choosing not to communicate is actually sending a message and if communication was expected you will lose a good business relationship and be left to clean up a mess.
Zenith Solutions is a Wanganui-based management consulting practice. It specialises in providing strategic planning, business process improvement and financial management services. Contact email@example.com or phone 021-244-2421.