Building bridges of communication
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Building a 'bridge of understanding' between parties
is fundamental if your business communication is to succeed.
If you are a consultant to a client, or a salesperson
attempting a closer relationship with your customer, here are five techniques
that help achieve just that.
1. Eliciting clients' views and perspective on issues.
The consultant or salesperson should not be the final
arbiter of what the client or customer should think.
It is invaluable, both as a dialogic tool and as a way of
building rapport, for you to ask the other person how they see the situation:
"What are your thoughts about what we are trying to achieve here? What are
some of the solutions or approaches you've thought about?"
2. Helping clients think aloud
In any good business partnership, both parties participate
in the thinking process.
"Have a think about what options the team has available...
what ones most appeal to you? Don't throw out any ideas just yet - no matter
how weird they might seem now, you'd be surprised at how workable they might
be later." "What are the implications of some of these approaches to other
teams or the project?"
3. Summarise the client's views and test your understanding
You really need to understand the other's
perspective in any communication process.
The most useful tool to achieve this is 'playing back' what
the client has said, in order to ensure that both they feel you have listened
and you feel confident in your understanding of what they said. "Let me
summarise what I've heard and see if I have it correct..."
4. React to how the client feels as well as the business
Business relationships are made up, primarily, of people.
People with frailties, aspirations, achievements and fears. Failure to deal
with the myriad emotions of clients will lead to failure, of both the
relationship and the project.
The more successfully the relationship handles personal
'ups and downs', as well as the feelings of both parties, the stronger the
bridge of communication is built.
Wise consultants and salespeople encourage their clients
and customers to express their views.
5. Allow the client (and yourself) time to pause and reflect
We all have a tendency to want to be seen as an 'expert' in
our field. So we all jump in and answer a question straight away, hoping to
both impress our client with our ready supply of wisdom and allay our fears
that they will 'find us out'.
In reality, no one knows all there is to know about a
subject. But it is the rare and wonderful client who openly acknowledges to
you their failure to understand fully or have a mapped out set of tactics for
any given situation.
Allowing the client (and yourself) time to pause and
reflect on a situation or question allows greater opportunity for bonds of
mutual understanding to develop. The discussion will become more thoughtful,
less reactively spontaneous (not all 'first thoughts' are good ones), and
Unless you are fighting fires, or taming lions, a calmer,
more measured approach to a project always pays the greatest dividends.
About the Author
Lee Hopkins the author of over 130 articles on business communication, and is
recognised world-wide as one of Australia's leading experts in online business
communication, including Social Media or Web2.0 as it's also known.
To connect with him, please call him on +61 8121 4444 any hour of the day or
night; if he's asleep you can leave a voice message!
Visit his site at www.LeeHopkins.com
to find many more articles on business communication. He also blogs at
www.LeeHopkins.net. Whilst there, why
not pick up a complimentary copy of his 'Social Media White Paper', which
explains all about this latest seismic change to the business communication
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-11-23 12:37:02 in Personal Articles