Updated: Aug 31
Use of effective communication techniques is one of my favorite topics when I was attending university for my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. When I first learned about it, I was fascinated to learn that communication is an art and science. It is just so useful in every way or setting I could think of-- whether communicating with your family, friends, colleagues/ peers, employees, or customers.
There had been times when I was doing some experiments if I could get the information I need to hear from people just by implementing therapeutic/ effective communication techniques; and I am really awed for the many times it worked.
There was an occasion when one of our patient's relatives was terribly irate to the point that she was already degrading one of our co-worker's race. My colleague requested me if I could instead talk to that particular relative because she's really trying to control her emotions too. I tried my best to be calm and while giving her the transfer documents I told her, "You are entitled to your opinion, Maam." Suddenly her mood changed, as well as her tone of voice. She stopped saying derogatory remarks and just said,"I know you guys are very good nurses. We just had a problem with communication." I didn't know that our Director of Nursing (DON) was behind me and she heard the conversation. She was so glad at what I did; and of course, I too was proud of myself for being able to subdue the tension through the use of effective communication technique.
In entrepreneurship, knowledge on this subject can help you implement with ease the management process too. For an instance, during the hiring process as you try to obtain pertinent and more detailed information about the applicants during an interview; as you conduct satisfaction surveys among your customers; or as you also deal with difficult employees and/or customers.
Efficient use of words can also add power and authority on you as a leader, manager or just merely as a member of the society. You'll be a better communicator who can inspire others to perform at their best and/ or an efficient influencer or facilitator of change within your family, community, or organization.
Unfortunately, since communication (verbal and non-verbal) is an inherent part of our existence, we tend to overlook how we can effectively use them to build positive interpersonal or interprofessional relationships.
So I just thought it would be nice to share this information to you, my dear readers. I have placed the following effective communication techniques within the context of entrepreneurship. Please do come back and share with me your experiences if you try to use them.
Effective Communication Techniques In Business
1. Broad opening statements. This is usually used in the early stage of conversation and encourages the person you are talking with to be more active and provide topic for discussion. It gives the other person freedom to talk and express himself/ herself more. During interviews, the common initial question that interviewers ask is "Tell me about yourself." Then after the interview process, applicants are usually asked, "Is there anything else you want to ask us?" If you want to initiate a conversation with a customer, you can ask "How's your day today, Sir." Other examples of this type of technique include:
"Is there any thing you would like to discuss with me?"
"Tell me about what you think about the proposal."
"What can I do for you today?"
2. Offering general leads. These type of technique uses neutral statements that encourages the other person to continue expressing himself/herself. It conveys the message that you, as a listener, is interested in what you are hearing and that you want to know more. Examples are:
"Please go on."
"I'd like to hear more about it."
3. Exploring. When we want to explore on a more detailed topic such as an idea or experience, we use the exploring technique. However, you must remember that if the other person expresses that s/he does not want to talk about it, show respect by not prying or probing. This technique must be used cautiously especially if you are asking about personal information to avoid making the person feel you are annoyingly meddlesome. You must be aware of the appropriateness of the question you'd ask, considering timing and degree of relationship with the person you are talking with. Examples:
"Can you describe to me how's your relationship with your co-workers in your previous job?"
"Would you share to us what caused you to resign?"
"Could you talk about how it was to manage a large workforce?"
"Would you like to discuss about certain work-related challenges you encountered and how you dealt with it?"
4. Focusing. The objective of focusing is to drive the conversation towards concentrating on a single point. It is useful to implement when there's so much irrelevant or less important things being discussed, such as when you are attending a board meeting or when you are facilitating a staff orientation, and there is limited time and/or the conversation is drifting away from the main topic. Examples:
"Let's go back to discussing about safe food handling to prevent food-borne illnesses among our buffet restaurant customers."
"Lessening degree of turnover among our employees seems worth looking at more closely at this time."
"At this point we are stuck at blaming each other, which is not good. Let's try to find ways on how we can arrange our schedule so we can both have more time for our kids."
5. Silence. Consciously and purposefully providing silence gives the other person time to process or organize his/her thoughts. In addition, this can be useful as both parties try to digest what they have just discussed, such as in a group meeting. As we live in a multicultural society, special consideration must be given to the fact that silence might be perceived differently by individuals. For some, it could be a sign of respect while for others it might imply defiance or estrangement. The key in using silence is to make sure you understand what silence means to the other person. It would also be ethical to have a virtuous motive behind your silence if you do it according to the objective of this article.
6. Accepting. When it comes to effective communication techniques, accepting is not synonymous with agreeing. Accepting implies that you understand what the sender tries to convey through his/her words. Examples:
"Yes; I'm following your explanation."
7. Giving recognition and sharing observations. The objective of these effective communication techniques is verbalize your awareness of a change that you notice, whether it be in another's personal appearance, action, behavior, or any effort. This technique is also neutral in a way that you do not make any judgment on its goodness or badness, rightness or wrongness. This, based on the scope of this article, is also not similar with giving praises, for an instance, when your employee does an excellent job performance at work. Examples:
"I noticed you weren't in the meeting this morning."
"You were able to finish the project on time."
"I saw our customer got mad at you."
"You participated in our brainstorming session yesterday."
You appear upset today."
8. Offering self. Offering self is a component of empathy. Here you let the other person feel your presence and become an active listener. Examples:
"Let me teach you how to operate that machine."
"If you need someone to talk with, please let me know."
"I can stay here with you for a while until you get comfortable doing this stuff."
9. Paraphrasing. Paraphrasing can be used to ensure that you understand what the other person said by restating the main idea. Use brief statements to ensure communication clarity. Examples:
Employee: "I had so much to think about last night. It kept me wide awake until 4 am. I was just tossing and turning. Then I accidentally turned off my alarm and I wasn't able to get here early."
Supervisor: "You had difficulty sleeping last night which caused you to be late."
Employee: "I burst into anger because that customer called me a names and made personal attacks on my color."
Manager: "You got angry because you felt you were discriminated."
10. Reflecting. The purpose of reflecting is to allow the other person express his/her own opinions and make decisions. To do this, you direct feelings, questions, and ideas back to him/her. It aids in building the other person's confidence that he is a capable being. It can somehow lead to another's development of self-efficacy. Examples:
Person 1: "How do think can I boost my plummeting sales? This business is really giving me a headache."
Person 2: "What strategies are you thinking of?"
Person 1: "Everyone is blaming me for that incident in the dining area."
Person 2: "Blaming you?"
11. Providing information. This includes straightforward statements (facts or knowledge) to aid the other person make informed decision or draw conclusion. Examples:
"We will be having team building activities tomorrow. Those prepared activities aim to promote better social interaction among our employees here at Thousand Business."
"We require that newly hired employees undergo drug testing to ensure the safety of the whole organization and our clients."
"Hello Mr. James, my purpose of visit is to submit business proposals which you might consider to strengthen your marketing activities."
12. Sharing empathy. Both empathy and sympathy are prosocial behaviors. Although many might be using these words interchangeably, there is a distinction between them. Sympathy is more inclined with feelings like sorrow, pity, and compassion-- denoting emotional reaction. When one becomes sympathetic, he/she is more likely to project own personal emotions and when excessively used this could lead to burnout or compassion fatigue. Whereas, when the helping person shows empathy, he/she is attempting to imagine self in another's position so that he/she may understand the other person's feelings, ideas, desires, or actions. Simply put, empathy is when we try to understand other's situation or feelings; and sympathy is when we feel for others. Examples:
Sympathy: "I feel so sorry for you when our boss shouted at you. I also had difficult times when I first landed on this job."
Empathy: "I see you are upset with our boss. Is there anything I can help you with to assist you get used to your tasks faster?"
Sympathy: "I know exactly how you feel right now. I also failed the nursing board exam twice. I was so depressed. I thought I could already work and start paying my education loan."
Empathy: "I understand how challenging a nursing board exam is. You got disappointed for not passing the exam. What do you plan to do next?"
13. Seeking clarification. When the conversation starts to get confusing or vague, seeking clarification is the best thing to do. Obscured meaning is a block to effective communication and it can lead to minor or major mishaps , such as when unclear instructions at work are given. This technique ensures that both the speaker and the listener have the same understanding of what have been said. This is primarily done by asking further explanation or examples. Examples:
"John, I'm not sure if I followed your instructions on how to edit Mr. and Mrs. Smith's wedding videos."
"Can you give me an instance when you felt that your co-workers were bullying you?"
"What would you say is the main point of merging the scheduler and the supervisor's job positions?"
14. Verbalizing implied thoughts and feelings. This technique means that the listener puts into words his/her inference of what have been heard. Same with seeking clarification, the purpose of verbalizing the implied thoughts and feelings is to make the conversation nonambiguous. Careful expression, however, should be considered to prevent making judgmental conclusions--which can disrupt relationships. Example:
Person 1: "It's a waste of time to talk with my supervisor and suggest ways on how we can save more resources."
Person 2: "Do you feel that your supervisor will not listen and disregard your suggestions?"
15. Seeking consensual validation. Searching for mutual understanding of another individual's spoken words (especially when slang words are used) is the objective of seeking consensual validation. This technique conveys your desire to understand his/her statement's meaning. Example:
Person 1: "I wish my people will stop dissing me. I'm only doing what the corporate wants."
Person 2: "Do you mean to say your subordinates are disrespecting you because they don't want the change that the corporate wants you to implement?"
16. Encouraging comparison. This helps to determine similarities and differences in life situations that reoccur. Examples:
"Have you had a similar experience supervising people in a research company?"
"Has this (shutdown) ever happened before in this school?"
17. Encouraging formulation of an action plan. If you're intention as a listener is to assist the other person consider more socially appropriate behaviors when negative circumstances or feelings arise, then this technique is more likely to be helpful. Examples:
"Mr. Tan, what other ways can you think of to make better approach among difficult students?"
"Mike, the next time you feel weary in balancing your personal life and career, what might you do to handle it?"
18. Suggest collaboration. This technique facilitates cooperation--working jointly, such as intellectually-- to come up with better solutions to encountered challenges. In the Bible, it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
"Two are better than one because they have a good return in their labor. If either of them falls down one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up."
"Let's work together to figure out how we can cut our overhead expenses without sacrificing the quality of our products."
"Let's go to the stock room together. I can help you find what our boss is asking you to bring him."
19. Recommend or suggest options. Based on the concept of effective communication techniques, there is a distinction between giving recommendation/ suggestions and giving premature advice. The former gives more personal autonomy and supports the decision-making skills of the other person; whereas the latter implies that you negate the other person's worth as a mutual partner in the decision-making. Both the pros and cons are usually delved into in this technique. Examples:
"How would attending a paid review program for your exam help you rather than doing it alone by yourself?"
"Of all the career development options you have been offered, which one do you think would benefit you best?"
20. Summarizing. After a series of conversation, such as during a business meeting or mentoring program, it would be best to state a concise discussion of the main topics and conclusions. It facilitates retention of important concepts among the participants. Example:
"So far, we have talked about ways on how you can test and assess precious stones and metals. This is a very critical skill among owners and staff of a profitable pawnshop business because it will help determine the appraised value of the pawned items and the amount you can loan to the borrowers. Is there anything else you would like to clarify about the techniques we have discussed?"
These are the most common effective communication techniques we can use to build better interpersonal and interprofessional relationships. You must be able to use them wisely, keeping in mind the purpose, appropriateness and timing of your verbal and nonverbal communication.
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