Agent Resources

Some sidelights on effective communication

So much of our time is taken up with communication, when we run a business. If we’re not listening to people on the phone, we’re emailing, or working up a listing, talking to new clients, listening to employees, briefing our marketing agency on what we want - the list is endless.

So when considering whether we’re communicating effectively, one way of approaching the subject is to take a sideways look at the common types of communication, and see if there are some new techniques we could try.

Verbal communication - tell them the story

You may have noticed a trend everywhere, from management briefings to TV ads, for telling stories. The theory goes that we have an ancient fascination with the story form, and because stories bring the abstract to life, they engage our attention in the way that factual information doesn’t.

So the story could be to explain how the agency came into being, what its core values are and what’s going to be important going forward. It could start with an anecdote from your business life that illustrates the point you want to make - just so long as you keep your audience wanting to know what happens next.

Non-verbal communication - look them in the eye

No one wants to be stared at, but if you don’t make eye contact with the person you’re speaking with, it makes them equally uncomfortable. If you’re talking to a group, try to fix on different people - don’t keep returning to one, or they will drop their gaze and start fiddling with a folder.

Give people enough space - don’t stand too close. If you are a large person, looming over someone’s desk so that they have to look up at you is intimidating and overbearing. If you need to talk to them, sit down.

Be aware of your body language too. If you habitually cross your arms when talking to people, it makes you look defensive and closed-off. Your body language when you are listening to junior colleagues should be respectful. This is not the time to be checking your messages.

Dealing with passive-aggressive communication

You may have been on the receiving end of this at some point, and it can be confusing and even upsetting - because it’s intended to be. It’s been described as non-verbal aggression.

The person being passive-aggressive is generally trying to avoid communication. They won’t tell you that they disagree with your idea. They’ll say nothing. They will avoid contributing any ideas themselves. They won’t answer emails when they don’t want to do something. They’ll come late to meetings and sit apart or at the back. They won’t refuse to do something, but their non-verbal expression and demeanour will make it clear they are insulted at the suggestion they do it. They will indirectly try to block any change or event they don’t like. They are very difficult to deal with, because they are not open.

Your best defence is to understand what is going on, then meet this refusal to communicate head on by openly communicating yourself. You might ask the person what they are thinking, why they didn’t reply to your email, why they think they don’t contribute. As passive-aggressors tend to be highly manipulative, being forced to communicate won’t suit them.

Luckily, this type is a tiny minority of people, and most of us are glad to communicate more openly, and enjoy the more productive working environment that results.

Source: Nethouseprices, 28/09/17

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