Craig Harrison asked:
Forget GQ! These days it’s your CQ that matters…your Communication Quotient. Degrees and awards are fine, your bilingualism and knowledge of the latest programming languages are nice, but how good a communicator are you? In English? With co-workers and customers?
Every job description emphasizes it: must have excellent communication skills. In performance reviews many get marked down for it. And as entrepreneurs who wear many hats, speaking with many voices is also a requisite skill. So how is your communication quotient?
Communication takes many forms. Think for a moment about a typical workday. You must communicate with customers, clients, co-workers (both superiors and subordinates), vendors, and even city, state and federal bureaucrats. Perhaps you even have interns or volunteers to communicate with. On occasion you’re also speaking with the media, members of your association or even competitors. How well are you communicating with each?
Each form of communication draws on different skills, each requires different approaches and sometimes even a different lexicon. The checklist below has broken out many of these types of communication into categories. Place a plus, minus or equal sign next to each line to rate whether you see yourself as already strong (+), average (=) or weak (-) in each area.
Can You Interact Successfully with Strangers?
– Make Small Talk?
– Ask them About Themselves?
– Tell Them About Yourself?
– Introduce Two Strangers to Each Other
– Discuss Current Events with Confidence
Networking and the ability to work a room are invaluable skills for a small business owner. Knowing how to introduce yourself to others through your elevator speech can also open many doors of opportunity. As you meet strangers are you exuding confidence? (To read more about elevator speeches: http://www.expressionsofexcellence.com/articles.html#elevatorspeech.)
Being able to mingle and mix, compliment strangers and inquire of their line of work is an effective way to expand your sphere of influence and prospect for new business. You can even qualify prospects deftly while schmoozing.
How Effective Are Your Communication Skills?
– Can You Give A Prepared Speech?
– Can You Speak Extemporaneously?
– Can You Make A Sales Presentation?
– Can You Interview Someone Else? Be Interviewed?
Some basic communication tenets to keep in mind in public speaking situations:
1. Speak clearly and audibly at all times.
2. Don’t rush your presentation. Pare its content down if you have too much to cover in the time given.
3. Enunciate effectively. For many, English is a second language. Focus on the consonants of each word.
4. Employ vocal variety to keep people paying attention. Avoid sing-songy patterns of speech.
5. Learn all about interview dynamics
How Versatile A Communicator Are You?
– Can You Make A Cold Call?
– Can You Train Others?
– Can You Conduct A Meeting As Its Leader?
– Can You Constructively Critique Another’s Performance?
I help small business owners take the chill out of cold calls. Once you understand the rules of the game, develop your script, learn to bypass gatekeepers and handle objections adeptly you will find cold calling to be better than going to the dentist.
(For more information on cold calling instruction: http://www.ExpressionsofExcellence.com/cold_calling.html)
â€¢ Sometimes the true test of your understanding something is the challenge of training others. How well can you communicate your knowledge to others? Do they “get” it? Are you sure? Training requires its own approach.
â€¢ Taking the lead in conducting meetings and discussions can be a delight once you understand how best to apply your leadership. You don’t have to master Robert’s Rules of Order to be able to fairly and ably conduct meetings.
â€¢ Constructively critique another’s performance can be one of the hardest things to do. Learn to separate performance from person, to get specific and also offer remedies or corrective plans, as well as benchmarks for success.
â€¢ Employ active listening techniques to insure you are hearing the other party and they are feeling heard as well. Many professional and interpersonal difficulties arise from a feeling of not being heard. Learn ways of insuring that you are hearing correctly and similarly being heard.
When The Going Gets Toughâ€¦
– Can You Handle Constructive Criticism?
– Can You Assert Yourself When Necessary & Speak Up?
– Can You Negotiate Effectively?
– Can You Co-exist With Diverse Personality Styles?
See Hecklers, Hardliners, and Heavy Questions for tips on this difficult area of communications.
Many of us shy away from speaking up and speaking our for fear of negative feedback or political ramifications. In our quest to be liked or avoid “making waves” we bite our tongue and look the other way instead of righting wrongs and correcting improprieties. Yet there are times when speaking up and speaking out is the right thing to do. Learn to speak your mind when it’s time, professionally and with precision, to get the results you desire.
Negotiating effectively can involve different types of communication skills. You may actually want to induce silence, or to repeat yourself, reiterating your stance or stipulations, for effect. Listening skills and creative problem solving skills are also involved. Learn to speak the language of win-win and be able to reiterate your adversary’s perspective so as to build consensus.
There is no right way to speak. Each of us speaks in our own communication style. Some of us use long sentences and many words, others are short winded and direct. Learn recognize how best you communicate and how to best communicate with others.
How Effectively Can You Communicate in “One-on-One” Situations
– Can You Instill Trust in Others? Engender their Support?
– Can You Diffuse Verbal Criticism and Maintain Control?
Learn coaching and training techniques for speaking one-on-one with co-workers, subordinates and superiors. Learn to communicate with others so as to build trust and confidence in others.
Where Do You Go From Here?
We’re all developing our Communication Quotient on the job. Learn to recognize how different forms of communication require different skills. Make a point of analyzing your style and the results it engenders. Where can you improve? Can classes, practice or coaching help? Become a student of improved communication. As for feedback. Study those whose communication style you respond to. Seek to raise your own CQ!